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Full text of "Melanthe; or, The days of the Medici. A tale of the fifteenth century"

L I E) RARY 

OF THE 

U N IVER5ITY 

or ILLINOIS 

823 

MW3m 

v.i 



4^^ 



MELANTHE; 



OR, 



THE DAYS OF THE MEDICI. 



^ 2rale of ti&e JFifttmi^ Centwrg. 



BY 

Mrs. MABERLY, 
author of " emily ;" " the love match," &c. 



VOL. I. 

LONDON : 
JOHN MITCHELL, 

BOOKSELLER AND PUBLISHER TO THE QUEEN, 
33, OLD BOND STREET. 



MDCCCXLIII. 



LONDON: 
PRINTED EY J. MITCHELL AND CO. (lATE BRETTELL), 
RUPERT STREET, HAYMARKET. 



FZ3 
V.) 



MELANTHE ; 



OR, 

THE DAYS or THE MEDICI. 



CHAPTER I. 

^ It was evening— and yet Elphenor had not 
quitted the spot, which, since sunrise, he had con- 
stantly occupied ; but, as the fading of the light 
disturbed the course of his studies, he threw his 
head back, and cast a look of impatience upon the 
glorious West, the crimson flush upon which an- 
. nounced that another day had passed. The deep 
^ blue wave of the Bosphorus was losing the golden 
: tinge of the sunlight, and the shadows gathered 
fast on the majestic hills of the opposite shore, ere 
^Elphenor could tear himself from the pursuit in 
^ which he delighted, and bring back his thoughts 
^to the present hour. The ragged and discoloured 
^ leaves of a manuscript, in characters of ancient 
^ Greek, which was spread out upon the table before 

^ VOL. I. B 



I 



X MELANTHE. 

him, showed the nature of his study ; but the 
reverential care with which, ere he quitted the 
room, Elphenor collected and arranged these leaves, 
proved how deep was the interest with which their 
contents had inspired him. The apartment in 
which he sat, showed still more plainly the tastes 
of its owner, being the nearest approach to an 
extensive library that was to be found in the house 
of any private individual of the Greek Empire, as 
early as the beginning of the fifteenth century. 

The newly discovered art of printing had not yet 
found its way to Constantinople, and the bulk 
of some of the manuscripts often rendered it 
difficult to transport them from place to place. 
But to Elphenor the formation and increase of 
his library had been a work of delight, and 
in it he found the solace of many hours which 
otherwise might have been productive of heavi- 
ness and discontent, by leaving a powerful and 
ardent mind to prey upon itself. Elphenor was 
still in the prime of life. Formerly the bosom 
friend and preceptor of Constantine, l}is time and 
talents had been devoted to the service of the state ; 
but differences having arisen between him and his 
royal pupil, Elphenor had for some time retired 



MELAXTHE. 



from the court of Constantinople, and in the 
seclusion of his villa bestowed his whole attention 
upon the study of literature and philosophy. 
There, in his quiet room, did he delight to bury 
himself, and surrounded by his books, — treasures 
in the collection of which he had spared neither 
trouble nor expense, he would forget his wrongs, 
and, elevated and enchanted by the glories of 
thought and image revealed by the poetry of the 
ancients, so abstract himself from the material 
world, that it was frequently difficult to recal his 
wandering mind to the more sober realities of 
earth. 

The labour or the pleasure of the day was now 
over ; and Elphenor rose, and, quitting the house, 
descended the terraced garden which led towards 
the sea. He moved slowly on, sometimes dis- 
appearing in the shade of the hedges of myrtle and 
oleander which bordered the path: — but having 
arrived at the end of the garden, he paused, and 
for a few moments gazed intently upon the road 
which led from the walls of the villa towards 
Constantinople. It appeared as though he en- 
deavoured through the fading light to trace the 
many windings of the road ; but soon he turned, 



MELAXTHE. 



and ascending some steps which led to a terrace 
overhanging the sea, he leaned against the marble 
balustrade ; and the heaviness which had hitherto 
clouded his brow, gradually faded from it, as he 
contemplated the luxuriance of the scene before 
him, of which his own villa formed a conspicuous 
feature. Slowly his eye scanned each object in its 
turn, as his glance wandered over the beauties of 
that shore which is unequalled in loveliness by any 
other in the known world. 

The banks of the Bosphorus, on the European 

side, presented a continued succession of convents, 

churches, and villas, interspersed with vine-clad 

terraces and gardens, so thickly planted with 

odoriferous shrubs, that the air was often heavy 

with their perfume. Midway upon the hill which 

crowned the promontory at the narrowest part of 

the straits, stood the dwelling of Elphenor. The 

Northern side was defended from the chill blasts of 

the Euxine sea by a magnificent wood of oak and 

cedar, which stretched to the summit of the hill ; 

while upon the Southern side, all that good taste 

could devise, or art accomplish, had been lavishly 

bestowed, in order to enhance the natural beauty of 

the spot. The house was a long and somewhat 



MELANTHE. 



low building, relieved in the centre by a lofty 
portico. The spray of a fountain glittered between 
the columns of marble, and around, at intervals, were 
ranged the most beautiful statues and vases, not 
only upon the terrace and the steps, but inter- 
spersed among the profusion of dark-leaved and 
bright-flowering shrubs adorning the garden. Here 
and there, a large single oak or chestnut spread its 
branches afar, as though offering a cool retreat 
from the ardour of the sun ; while thick clusters 
of magnolias and pomegranites mingled with the 
laurels which from the ends of the terrace dipped 
their branches in the water. The strait was so 
narrow that the opposite shore, covered with its 
bright kiosks, was distinctly visible ; and upon a 
calm evening the voice of the Muezzin calling 
the faithful to prayer, from the minarets of the 
distant Turkish villages, might be heard by the 
holy Greeks, whose convents and churches, peeping 
out from the shade of their laurel and cypress 
groves, were thickly studded on the European 
shore. 

As Elphenor gazed upon his home, it seemed as 
if he had never before sufficiently appreciated the 



() mela:nthe. 

luxuriance of beauty by which it was surrounded. 
The day was fading, and the deepening shadow 
added to the rich variety of the scene. Not a 
sound broke the stillness of the evening, save the 
monotonously regular plashing of an unruffled sea 
upon the beach below, as the deep waters of the 
Bosphorus glided rapidly by ; or, now and then, 
the plaintive note of some sweet singing-bird calling 
to his mate from the orange and lemon groves, the 
heavy fragrance of whose flowers hung upon the 
lulled and breathless air. All was hushed, — and 
it might have been thought that in that spot, so 
full of peace and beauty, the spirit of man would 
have found rest. Yet Elphenor, as he dwelt 
upon the scene before him, appeared disturbed by 
some thought less tranquil than the hour ; for he 
sighed heavily, and, with a restless and dissatisfied 
expression of countenance, turned from the con- 
templation of his home, and fixed his eyes upon the 
waves beneath. For some time he remained 
standing in the same attitude, his arms folded, 
and his head bent slightly downwards, when a 
light step was heard advancing, and a form of 
such surpassing beauty glided to his side, that 



MELAXTHE. 7 

it seemed as though one of the sculptured images 
of perfection, with which he had delighted to 
adorn his dwelling, had suddenly breathed into 
life, and, descending from its pedestal, had come 
to repay him for his admiration by the tender 
offices of love. 

" Elphenor !"" said a voice so soft and low, that 
but for the gentle pressure of a hand upon ^his 
arm, it might have failed to arouse the attention 
of him to whom it was addressed. 

" Ida ! my beloved !"" he exclaimed ; and, as he 
spoke, the cloud vanished from his brow, and he 
gazed with passionate fondness on the fair being 
who stood with his hand clasped in hers, and a face 
beaming with love, although a look of reproach 
struggled through the tenderness of her smile. 
She did not speak again ; still it seemed as if 
Elphenor had read her thoughts, for he drew her 
to his bosom softly, as though she had been a 
young child, and covered her brow and lips with 
gentle kisses. 

Well might the sternest have been moved by the 
beauty and tenderness of such a being as Ida. A 
Sciote by birth, she united the symmetry of the Greek 



O MELANTHE. 

form with the more commanding air and height of 
the Circassians, from whose country her mother 
had derived her origin. From her, Ida had inherited 
the stately step and noble outline of the head and 
neck, which so much distinguished her from other 
women ; while the long half-closed eye, with its 
black fringes and the slightly-curved upper lip, 
belonged more to the Grecian order of beauty. 
As she leaned upon the balustrade, the thin chemise 
of white gauze with its hanging sleeves, veiled, but 
did not conceal the beauty of her neck and arms : 
a small green jacket, embroidered with gold and 
pearls, confined at the waist by a jewelled clasp her 
flowing petticoat of white ; while a few of the 
bright scarlet flowers of the pomegranite were the 
only ornaments mingled with the long raven tresses 
of her hair. Such was Ida — the beauteous wife, 
upon whose face Elphenor continued to gaze in 
silence, and with a look of sadness. 

" Elphenor,"" she said timidly, " another day has 

passed, and I have not seen you. I shall be jealous 

of your studies, if they occupy all your attention." 

" They do not steal one thought from you, 

dearest Ida," replied Elphenor ; " but I have been 



MELA^'THE* 9 

of late more oppressed than usual ; I am not as I 
once was, and my heaviness may weary you ; — I am 
best alone."" 

" Oh, no !" exclaimed Ida, " do not speak thus. 
Am I not your wife ? and ought I not to share 
your sorrows ? Nay, it is my right," she continued, 
playfully taking the hand of her husband, and 
looking up into his face with childish glee, as if 
hoping by her gaiety to dispel the gloom which 
again began to settle upon his brow : but Elphenor 
only sighed. 

" I cannot bear to see you thus. Speak to me, 
my own Elphenor," said Ida — her eyes filling with 
tears. " None but the sinful should grieve thus 
while surrounded by blessings." 

" You think me then without sin, Ida ; without 
cause for self-reproach ? — Alas, would it were so !" 

" How .?" exclaimed Ida, somewhat startled by 
these words ; " surely, if ever being was faultless, 
it is my own Elphenor. You," she continued hur- 
riedly, as if fearful of contradiction, " you, whom 
all men revere — and every one, even the holy 
hermit Gennadius, comes to consult as more holy 
than himself; you cannot be sinful — it is impos- 
sible." 

B 5 



10 MELANTHE. 

" And is it not a sin," replied Elphenor gravely, 
" to waste in useless inactivity the life that God 
has given ?— to feel that not only the attainment of 
knowledge is within our reach, but that its appli- 
cation, by which millions of fellow creatures might 
benefit, is within our power; and yet to withhold all 
— to feel that day by day we but exist for our- 
selves, instead of living for others — for our country 
— for posterity ?" 

" Alas !"" said Ida, sadly, as she marked the 
glowing cheek and flushing eye of her husband, 
" if this is the result of your incessant studies, 
have I not reason to fear them ? Look round, 
Elphenor, and say, have we not all to make us 
happy, but the will to enjoy it? Does not this 
paradise belong to us ? There, in that dear home, 
sleeps our treasure — our beauteous infant Melanthe 

and,'"* continued Ida, while her voice faltered, 

and tears of tenderness fell from her eyes, as 
she twined her slender fingers among the dark curls 
upon her husband's forehead, " Have we not each 
other ?" 

" Yes, my beloved Ida," exclaimed Elphenor, 
clasping her to his heart ; " I am indeed rich in 
blessings, far beyond my desert— but still " 



MELANTHE. 11 

" Still you regret the court and your high sta- 
tion. This seclusion is irksome to you : I know it 
is,'" said Ida, somewhat pettishly. 

" You speak as a woman, my sweet Ida — a fond 
and timid woman ; — we have higher duties to per- 
form ; and to shrink from them to ensure a life of 
peace and ease is degrading, and wrong." 

" Then why not seek a reconciliation with the 
Emperor,'' suggested Ida, " if you are desirous of 
re-entering the toils and cares of public life ?"" 

" The counsels of Elphenor must be sought — 
not offered like the flippant service of a menial," 
answered Elphenor, proudly. 

" Alas f said Ida, sadly, " few know the real 
value of any thing till they have lost it. Doubtless, 
the Emperor has often regretted the obstinacy 
which drove you from him — though you cannot 
expect that I should do so, Elphenor, since it gave 
you to me. In the hurry of public affairs, you 
would never have found time to have sought for a 
wife; but,'' continued Ida gaily, " I must make 
you confess that the days of our wedded life have 
not been the most unhappy of your existence.'' 

" I were unworthy of so o^reat a treasure as my 



12 MELANTHE. 

beauteons Ida, did I not own it," said Elphenor 
softly. 

" Then I will not ask for another word," ex- 
claimed Ida,* rapturously. **• And now farewell — it 
is late, and I must hasten to Melanthe — you will 
come in soon/' 

" Yes, soon," replied Elphenor ; and Ida left 
him, and turned towards the house. Elphenor 
continued to watch until the last glimpse of her 
white dress disappeared beneath the portico ; the 
gloom of his brow had softened to a gentle melan- 
choly, and he stood with his eyes fixed upon the 
spot which contained his wife and child, until the 
stern reasoning of the philosopher gave way before 
the tenderness of the husband and the father. The 
words of the gentle Ida recurred to him, " Few 
know the real value of any thing until they have 
lost it ;" and he shuddered as he thought of the 
troubles which, even at that moment, threatened the 
country of his love, and the dangers to which the 
dear inmates of his peaceful home might be exposed, 
should he be once again launched upon the stormy 
sea of public life. 



CHAPTER 11. 

After the form of Ida had disappeared from his 
view, so deep was the reverie into which Elphenor 
had fallen, that he was quite unconscious that for 
some minutes a sharp sound had broken upon the 
stillness of the night. At length, as it continued 
to approach, a jarring sensation upon his nerves, as 
though he had been suddenly aroused from sleep, 
made him start, and he turned his head in the di- 
rection from whence the sound proceeded. Nearer 
and nearer it came, until the regular step of horses 
ridden at a rapid pace became distinct, and in a few 
moments two horsemen were seen descendins: the 
hill by a road which wound outside the walls of the 
villa. At the first appearance of the riders, even 
the clearness of an Eastern night could not enable 
Elphenor to decide upon their probable rank or 
business ; but, as they approached, his attention 
became suddenly fixed, and an expression of 
surprise and doubt, not unmixed with pleasure, 



14 MELANTHE. 

overspread his countenance. It soon became 
evident that his presence was also perceived by 
the horsemen, for they quickened their pace, and 
in another moment one of them dismounted, and 
throwing the rein of his horse to his companion, 
began rapidly to ascend the broad flight of marble 
steps which led to the terrace where Elphenor 
stood. The dark cloak and plain riding dress of 
the stranger did not conceal the grace of the form 
beneath ; and from the elasticity of the step, and 
carelessness of manner which marked his movements, 
it might have been supposed that the visitor of 
Elphenor had scarcely passed the age of boyhood. 
His countenance also, expressing as it did a light- 
hearted gaiety, confirmed the suspicion ; and 
although the long brown curls turned loosely back 
from a forehead white as snow, the gentle smile and 
languid expression of the large hazel eyes, gave to 
his appearance a slight degree of effeminacy, the 
defect was somewhat to be excused, for, in fact, the 
stranger had not passed his twentieth year. Yet 
with all this grace of childishness mingled a dig- 
nity which redeemed it from too much softness ; 
and, upon more close observation, might have 



MELANTHE. 15 

been detected even in that laughing manner an 
expression which spoke the habit of command. No 
sooner had the figure of the stranger become, be- 
neath the bright gleam of the stars, fully visible to 
Elphenor, than the look of uncertainty which his 
features had hitherto worn, disappeared from them, 
and with a hurried step he advanced to meet his 
visitor, in whom, notwithstanding his disguise and 
the unusual mode of his appearance, he had recog- 
nised the Emperor Constantine. Arrived within 
a few paces, Elphenor would have bent his knee 
before his royal guest ; but the latter hastened to 
prevent him, exclaiming, as he kindly extended his 
hand, — 

" Reserve your homage for another time, dear 
Elphenor. It is as a friend, and not as the Em- 
peror, that Constantine now seeks you."" 

Elphenor only replied by a deep reverence, and 
by pressing to his lips with much respect the hand 
which his sovereio^n had extended to him. 

" I see I am not yet forgiven," said Constantine, 
after a moment's pause, during which he appeared 
to view with pain the cold and grave demeanour of 
his former friend and preceptor. '* Surely," he 



16 MELANTHE. 

continued, " a penitent can do no more than confess 
his fault, and sue for pardon.'' 

" It would ill become me," replied Elphenor, " to 
withhold aught that your Majesty might desire; 
but alas ! when I was compelled to withdraw my 
services, it was only " 

" I know, I know," interrupted Constantine, 
" all that you would say. It was my folly — my 
headstrong folly, that drove from me my only 
friend. Oh ! you know not how bitterly I have 
repented it. Return to me, Elphenor ; return, to 
bless me with your counsels and your kindness ; 
your presence will awe the buzzing crowd of syco- 
phants that surround me. Return, and in all I will 
be guided by your wisdom." 

" My gracious sovereign, were I to listen," be- 
gan Elphenor ; but the impetuous Constantine 
again interrupted him : — 

" You must listen ; you must promise ; oni 
say you will return, and I will pledge my royal 
word, that the points on which we differed shall no 
more be urged." 

" How shall I thank your Majesty for such 
gracious words ?" replied Elphenor, much affected 



MELANTHE. 17 

by the evident sincerity of the young Emperor. 
" Still, I dare not say that I could weigh my con- 
science against the state expedients that " 

" Nay, you must have known,^ broke in the 
Emperor, with a gesture of impatience, " that 
when I yielded to the clamour of my people, and 
abandoned the design of uniting the two churches, 
it was a cause of grievous sorrow to me ; and not 
the less so,"' he added affectionately, " because it 
was the chief reason of our quarrel.'' 

" Let not your Majesty, I implore," exclaimed 
Elphenor, solemnly, " urge a temporal reason for 
a grief which should have sprung from a sense of 
error towards heaven. Alas ! thus, when we waver 
in our duty, are we ever ready to seek a shelter 
from our conscience — conscience, the only monitor 
that never flatters." 

The Emperor smiled. But he knew too well 
the uncompromising rectitude of Elphenor, to be 
the least offended by the calm sternness of his 
manner. 

" Be that as it may," he replied to the last re- 
mark of his preceptor ; " but oh ! Elphenor, if 
you ever loved me, do not now reject my prayer ! 



18 MELANTHE. 

Since you left me, you know not what I have suf- 
fered ! Alas !'' he continued, in a tone of deep 
feeling, " without one true friend and adviser, 
what must a monarch be? What but a puppet 
in the hands of his greedy courtiers ! A tool to 
forward their designs of place and power, and 
popular so long only as he yields to their wishes." 

" Is it not rather," replied Elphenor, "that 
decision is wanting, to assert the power that would 
make it otherwise ? " 

" I know not," cried Constantine bitterly ; " but, 
dear Elphenor, you cannot guess the difficulties 
with which I am beset. Since you left the court, 
not one word of truth have I heard. I know not in 
whom to confide, and therefore I withhold my 
confidence from all, while each of my ministers 
openly boasts of alone possessing it. There is 
Luca Notaras, the grand admiral, daily he wearies 
me with advice, which I as constantly reject; and 
yet he announces to all that I see but with his 
eyes." 

" The noblest steed may swerve from the sting 
of the meanest insect. God grant that your ma- 
jesty may not already have been turned from tlie 



MELANTHE. 19 

right way by the underhand machinations of 
Notaras," exclaimed Elphenor, between whom and 
the grand admiral no goodwill had ever existed. 

" How mean you ?'' asked the Emperor quickly. 

" When his wisdom persuaded your majesty to 
refuse the hand of the Lady Bianca, daughter 
to the Doge of Venice, he shook with an insidious 
hand one of the firmest props of your empire. 
The Venetian republic will not soon or easily for- 
give the affront.'" 

" By all the saints, it is too true ! '' exclaimed 
the Emperor. " Would to God, I had never 
listened to his boast, that the ships of the empire 
could sweep the seas of all the Venetian galleys in 
an hour. The time may come, when I would fain 
see a few of them at anchor in the Golden Horn.'" 

" Evil was the counsel to reject an alliance so 
honourable,'"* observed Elphenor. 

" What could I do ? '' asked the Emperor, 
whose chief fault was indecision of character. 
" I was ready to marry any princess whose alliance 
might have been of service to the state — yet not 
one could be found to suit the rapacity of my 
courtiers. What can a monarch do more than yield 
to the advice of his councillors ?" 



20 MELANTHE. 

" Much," replied Elphenor, calmly ; " he can 
resist, when aware that it is injudicious." 

" It is so difficult— so impossible," said Con- 
stantine, irresolutely. 

" Not impossible. With the will to do, and 
the spirit to dare, there is nothing that is im- 
possible," answered Elphenor, firmly ; for to the 
young monarch who stood before him, his words 
had ever been those of a parent. " Your majesty 
is right — it is well to listen, but not to all alike. 
Observe that stately vessel, as she glides upon the 
wave — how steady her course ! — where would she 
be, did not one hand guide her on her trackless 
path ? Noble prince, your empire is but as that 
vessel — let one hand guide the helm, and let that 
one be your own." 

" It shall be so," exclaimed Constantine, fer- 
vently. " I have yielded too long — I will decide 
for myself. By the counsels of others, have I 
dallied even with the safety of my throne. The 
foe is almost at our gates before we have even 
thought on the means of arresting his progress. 
You know not perhaps," he continued in a lower 
tone, and bending towards the ear of Elphenor, 



3IELANTHE. 9X 

" that Mahomet is openly making preparations for 



warr 



?" 



" How ?'' said Elphenor, starting. 
" Nay, more,'' continued the Emperor, sinking 
his voice almost to a whisper, " he dares to boast 
among his infidel courtiers, that he will seat him- 
self on our throne of Constantinople, and give 
our Christian women for slaves to his unbelieving 
followers." 

" I do beseech you majesty,'' said Elphenor, 
hurriedly, " is this indeed a truth, or merely a 
report from the idle ?'^ 

" A truth — a certainty. This very day, a secret 
messenger from Calil Pacha, the grand vizier of 
Mahomet, arrived in the city; he but stipulates 
for a certain sum, and promises information of all 
that takes place at Adrianople." 

" Villain, and traitor,"' exclaimed Elphenor, 
bitterly ; " but his information is precious. Your 
majesty has not revealed this news." 

" To none, save to you, Elphenor. To you, as 
to my only true friend, have I turned in this hour 
of need. Be once more my adviser. The people 
love you. Under your guidance, the interests of 



MELANTHE. 



the empire will flourish, and blessings join the 
names of Constantine and Elphenor. Say then, 
that to-morrow you will resume your place in the 
council chamber."" 

" Your Majesty shall be obeyed," said Elphenor, 
slowly, as he gazed upon the excited countenance 
of the sovereign whom he loved as a son. 

" 'Tis well,'** exclaimed Constantine, joyously. 
" And now adieu : — and he wrung the hand of his 
early friend with all the fervour of a youthful 
affection, and calling to his attendant, hastened 
down the steps which led to the road. 

" Is this prudent .P" observed Elphenor, as he 
saw that the person who held the horse of the 
Emperor, was a young Greek page. " At this 
hour, alone ! — oh, suffer me to attend your majesty 
to the city." 

" Nay, there is no danger. — Cylon is faithful ; 
and Kaled,"" patting the neck of his horse as he 
spoke, " is sure — would that I could say as much 
for all who await me in yonder city."" 

" May God protect your majesty !" replied 
Elphenor, solemnly ; for the tone of sorrow which 
had betrayed itself in the parting words of the 



MELANTHE. 23 

Emperor, struck a chill into the heart of his hearer: 
but the young and thoughtless Constantine was 
already in his saddle, and waving his hand, soon 
the clattering of his horse's hoofs upon the hard 
road as he gallopped back towards the city, died 
away in the distance ; and once more, Elphenor 
was alone. 



CHAPTER III. 

One hour had scarcely elapsed since Elphenor 
had quitted the home where, for some time, his 
life had been spent in peaceful seclusion. He had 
risen from his studies a moody, discontented man ; 
one hour had passed, and with it the sorrows 
which had so long weighed down his spirit, had 
vanished. His conscience was suddenly relieved — 
the wound in his affections had been healed — he 
was restored to the confidence of his sovereign and 
friend; and, above all, he perceived that the 
moment was at hand, when the project he had so 
strenuously advocated as essential to the welfare of 
his country, must be carried into effect. Thus far 
all appeared bright. Once again he would mingle 
with the world — again would his voice be heard in 
the councils of his country ; and, by timely and 
unwearied exertions might that country be rescued 
from impending danger, and the empire restored 
to the glory of its former days. High thoughts 



MELA^iTHE. 25 

and bright visions filled the noble mind of Elphe- 
nor ; and it was not till he turned his eyes towards 
his own home, that a pang of regret forced its way 
into a heart bounding with joy. The soft glimmer 
of a lamp from one of the windows told him, that 
in that lonely room there were fond eyes watching 
for his coming ; and the spirit of Elphenor sunk, 
for he knew that the peace of that home was now 
broken — and for ever ! His retirement had become 
dear — more dear than he had been aware of — for 
ever, while yielding to the fascination of domestic 
ties in the society of his beautiful Ida^ the con- 
science of Elphenor had reproached him for his 
abrupt withdrawal from the important situation he 
had held at the court of the Emperor Constantine 
Paleologus. In a moment of disgust, at the vacil- 
lation of the Emperor, upon a point which had 
long been a subject of controversy, not only in the 
Greek empire, but throughout most of the Italian 
states — the union of the Greek with the Latin 
church — Elphenor had resigned his charge, and re- 
tired to live at the beautiful villa bequeathed to him 
by his father, to whom it had been granted by the 
munificence of the late Emperor John Paleologus. 

VOL. I, c 



So MELANTHE. 

It was now early in the summer of 1452 — a 
period never to be forgotten in the annals of the 
Greek empire. Some time had elapsed since the 
voice of Elphenor had been heard in the councils 
of his royal pupil; but from that moment the 
bosom of Elphenor had known no rest. At his 
latest hour, the dying Emperor, aware of the almost 
childish indecision of character which formed so 
glaring a defect in the disposition of his son, had 
implored Elphenor never to withdraw himself from 
Constantine, but to treat him as if he were his own 
son ; and Elphenor had promised. How had he 
performed that promise ? It is true, that so long 
as his advice had been followed, he had disregarded 
the annoyances to which, owing to the envy and 
jealousy of the courtiers of Constantine, he was 
incessantly exposed : but the moment he was con- 
vinced that he no longer retained sufficient power 
over the mind of the Emperor to dissuade him 
from listening to the injudicious suggestions of 
others, he had retired from court ; and, bidding 
adieu to the toil and tumult of political life, had 
devoted his whole time to the fulfilment of 
domestic duties, and the study of philosophy. 



MELANTHE. 27 

His house soon became the rendezvous of all that 
Constantinople boasted as most distinguished in 
art or literature ; and these were not a few ; for 
the well-known encouragement which Constantine 
had always bestowed upon them, had been the 
means of attracting great numbers from all parts 
of the world. They had eagerly left their homes, 
and settled in a city, where the revival of letters 
and encouragement of the arts were avowedly the 
predominant tastes of the young Emperor ; — tastes 
which were speedily adopted by all who sought his 
favour. 

The palaces and squares of the city were not 
only adorned with splendid works of art, but the 
private residences of all such as pretended to any 
rank or consequence among the nobles were highly 
ornamented, and filled with the most precious 
specimens of ancient and modern sculpture and 
painting ; while the formation of libraries, and the 
search after curious manuscripts, were among the 
first objects of the learned and the great. In these 
pursuits, the Greek priests were particularly dis- 
tinguished. The establishment of schools of phi- 
losophy and elocution had been one of the chief 



28 MELANTHE. 

cares of the late Emperor ; and as the education of 
youth was at that time entirely confided to the 
Greek clergy, they had risen to be not only an opu- 
lent but a powerful body. To them it was not per- 
mitted, as to the Latins, to become soldiers in time 
of need, or to enliven the monotony of their lives 
by indulging in a variety of pursuits not forbidden 
to the Romans. The caloyers, or Greek priests, 
were remarkable for the austerity of their lives ; 
yet, from being constantly immured within their 
colleges and monasteries, and subjected to one un- 
broken routine of study and devotion, too often 
degenerated into indolent and intolerant bigots. 
It is true that amongst them were some whose 
ardent and inquiring minds could ill brook the con- 
finement of the cloister ; and of these, man}^ obtained 
permission from their patriarch to wander forth 
over the world, and spend their days in the search 
after, or diffusion of, knowledge. When a certain 
time had elapsed, they were bound lo return to their 
home ; and it had long been a matter of emulation 
amongst them, as to who should enrich the library j 
of their college with the most precious books and 
manuscripts. In tliis manner, an invaluable store 



MELANTHE. 29 

of information constantly accumulated ; and in the 
reign of Constantine it was his glorious boast, that 
within the walls of his city were collected more 
books and learned men than could be found in all 
the countries of the West. The Greeks were 
proverbially avaricious — the liberality of the Em- 
peror well known, and the certainty of reward for 
the discovery of any valuable work in art or 
literature was, therefore, not a slight incentive 
towards industry of research. The popularity of 
1 sovereign, who could as readily distinguish as 
recompense merit, was soon established ; and the 
young and handsome Constantine was hailed by 
all classes, as the benefactor and ornament of his 
country. Acclamations, mingled with blessings, 
greeted him on every side ; and as at first he 
prudently refrained from awakening the bigotry of 
his people, by attacking their prejudices, peace and 
happiness appeared to smile upon him, and pro- 
mise him a long and a happy reign. A short time, 
however, had elapsed, ere a cloud gathered on the 
horizon of his hitherto briglit existence ; and it 
was during the retirement of Elphenor, that a 



30 MELANTHE. 

change took place in the position of Constantinople, 
which threatened serious consequences. 

Amurath, the Sultan of the Turks, and the 
bitter enemy of the Greeks, had died ; but, instead 
of the hoped-for cessation of anxiety and terror 
with which he had constantly overwhelmed the 
city of Constantinople, a foe still more fierce and 
implacable had arisen in the person of his son 
and successor, Mahomet TI. From the moment 
of his accession to the throne, his words had been 
of peace, while the warlike preparations in which 
he was constantly engaged, left little doubt that 
the accomplishment of some long meditated project 
was not far distant. As his preparations advanced, 
so did the reserve which he had hitherto main- 
tained disappear; and the bitter taunts which he 
began unsparingly to lavish upon the Greek 
empire, showed that it was not less to him, than 
it had been to his predecessors, an object of 
jealousy and dislike. As yet, he had refrained 
from any movement of hostility, and the easy and 
trusting spirit of Constantine had remained in 
repose; till at length aroused by some private 



MELANTHE. 31 

information, the Greek Emperor suddenly became 
alarmed, and starting from his fancied security 
looked around for the support which, in case of 
attack, the isolated position of his city must 
eventually render indispensable. 

His first and most natural appeal for succour 
was to Rome. Rome, even then in her decline — 
alike destitute of treasure and of troops — Rome 
was still powerful. The halo of sanctity still 
surrounded the Holy See, and commanded the 
bigotry of many ; and although the city of the 
Pope was herself too often forced to lean upon 
mercenary aid, yet whenever a foreign state entered 
upon any undertaking, the blessing of the Pontiff was 
still craved as in former days, and the countenance 
of his Legate relied upon, as giving weight to the 
power that was sanctified by his presence. Thus, 
decaying daily in physical resources, the church 
of Rome still continued to maintain a moral 
authority, which in many instances supplied the 
place of a more real power. At the period when 
the first alarm compelled Constantine to take some 
steps towards his own defence, Nicholas V. filled 
the papal chair. To him, as to a father, did the 



32 MELANTHE. 

Emperor reveal the situation of his affairs, im- 
ploring timely and sufficient aid to avert the 
coming storm. But his prayers were addressed 
to an unwilling ear. To Rome, the possession of 
Constantinople had long been a cause of distress 
and annoyance. Forgetting that the seat of her 
own empire had been transferred thither, Rome 
appeared to consider Constantinople as a mere 
colony. The indolence of the popes, and the 
avarice of the cardinals, blinded them to the 
necessity of cordially supporting their Greek 
brethren ; and, wearied by the continual complaints 
and applications for money or support which they 
received from the Emperors of Constantinople, 
they had latterly manifested a cold indifference to 
the fate of a city in which their own was in reality 
so much involved. 

The moral as well as the local situation of Con- 
stantinople presented features so peculiar, as to be 
in a great measure the cause of the embarrassment 
from which she so frequently suffered. The 
population was composed of two nations, differing 
in their habits, customs, and religion. The greater 
portion was Greek; but unhappily for the pro- 



MELANTHE. 33 

tection of the empire, the spirit of the Grecian 
warriors of old dwelt not in the breasts of their 
descendants. A people, composed chiefly of priests, 
merchants, and artisans, much as it may desire 
peace for the protection of its various interests, is 
the least calculated to secure it by affording the 
means of a vigorous defence in the hour of need. 
The Greeks counted few soldiers. Those who 
had been trained to arms, were only to be found 
among the Romans who made up the remainder 
of the population, together with some foreigners, 
chiefly Venetian and Genoese. The latter had 
established themselves in the suburb of Galata, 
forming a sort of colony dependent on the city. 
As their only avowed object was trade, their faith 
had been more than once doub'ful; and Constantine 
felt that little reliance was to be placed upon men, 
whose very position w^ithout the walls might be an 
inducement to submission on the first approach of 
an enemy. 

Under these circumstances, it should have been 

the policy of the Emperor of Constantinople ever 

to have maintained a perfect understanding with 

the Roman powers. Rome, the founder of the 

c 5 



34 MELANTHE. 

city, should have been its protector ; but, like an 
unnatural parent, in the hour of adversity, instead 
of compassionating the sorrows of her child, she 
hardened her heart against its cries, by dwelling on 
the faults that had led to its distress, and the 
annoyance they had caused to herself. How often 
do the vices or follies of one to whom the charge of 
a people has been committed, entail misery and 
ruin upon his successor ! Constantine soon found 
that he had inherited, not only the empire, but the 
disadvantageous position in which the impolitic 
conduct of his predecessors had placed it; and the 
unsteadiness of purpose, which he had displayed 
upon the only occasion upon which he had been 
brought into connection with the Holy See, had 
revived and strengthened the prejudice with which 
Rome had been too long accustomed to regard 
Constantinople. Supported by the powerful and 
enlightened mind of Elphenor, Constantine had at 
once embraced the proposition of uniting the Greek 
and Latin churches; and his first trial of power had 
been an attempt to enforce the decree, which had 
been passed some years previously at the Council 
of Florence, authorising the union. Like his 



MELANTHE. 35 

father, the Emperor John Paleologus, Constantine 
had abandoned the attempt, terrified by the vio- 
lence of the schism which arose, as it had done 
before, on the first mention of the contemplated 
union. By this one act of weakness, Constantine 
shook with his own hand the foundation of his 
empire. 

All those, Avhose superior intelligence rendered 
them favourable to the proposed act of union (at the 
head of whom was Elphenor) withdrew from his 
councils ; and the Emperor was left surrounded by 
a weak and interested faction, while he was over- 
whelmed by the reproaches which the Pope unhesi- 
tatingly lavished upon him. Under these circum- 
stances, it is not to be supposed that the prayers of 
Constantine for succour were favourably received 
by the Holy See. In a paroxysm of rage, Nicholas 
V. refused even to admit the ambassadors of the 
Emperor. 

" It was not," he said, " worth while attempting 
to avert the ruin, which would infallibly overwhelm 
the city that openly gave a preference to temporal 
over spiritual blessings." 

How frequently does it appear that words spoken 



36 MELANTHE. 

in anger or in deep grief are prophetic ! Not many 
years elapsed, ere the proud Nicholas lay on his 
death-bed, mourning with bitter tears the sorrows 
he had foretold, and the harshness with which he 
had repulsed the prayer of the ill-fated Constan- 
tine ! At the time these words were spoken, danger 
was comparatively at a distance, and the pride of 
the angry Pontiff was gratified by the idea of the 
dependence to which he hoped to have reduced the 
city of Constantinople. The ambassadors of the 
Emperor quitted Rome, and returned to inform their 
anxious and perplexed sovereign of the ill success 
of their mission. Constantine was thunderstruck 
at the manner of their reception ; and although his 
conscience absolved him of intentional deception, he 
saw at once that his weakness upon the point which 
the Pope had so much at heart, was the cause of his 
contemptuous refusal of his demand. The high spirit 
of the young Emperor was roused by the affront, 
but his calmer judgment told him that resistance 
was useless. Submission and reconciliation with 
the Holy See must be his first object. His own 
empire was as it were in an enemy^s country. In a 
moment he might be hemmed in on all sides ; and he 



p 



MELANTHE. 37 

well knew his city did not possess within itself 
resources sufficient for its defence. Instant de- 
cision was therefore necessary, and the mind of 
the Emperor turned to him for whom his heart 
had so often yearned — the adviser of his youth — 
Elphenor. 

So long as the quarrel between them could be 
deemed personal, so long had the pride of the 
monarch struggled with the affections of the friend ; 
and though hourly desiring a reconciliation, he had 
allowed more than two years to elapse without 
having seized upon any opportunity which might, 
without a compromise of dignity on his part, have 
afforded a pretext for an adjustment of differences. 

Now, the aspect of affairs had changed^ and at 
once, by a noble effort, he cast aside personal con- 
siderations; and resolutely avoiding any consultation 
with those who might have endeavoured to dissuade 
him from such a step, he had secretly left his palace, 
accompanied only by Cylon, a young Greek slave 
whom he had rescued in battle and restored to free- 
dom, and once more had taken the well-known road 
to the villa of Elphenor, his early friend, and the 
only one in whom he felt he could place unbounded, 
confidence. 



CHAPTER IV. 

There was much of joy mingled with regret, 
which filled the gentle bosom of Ida, on hearing of 
the sudden change in her existence, which would 
probably ensue from the interview between the 
Emperor and Elphenor. The love of Ida for her 
husband amounted almost to idolatry ; and to a 
woman who really loves, it is ever a moment of 
rapture, when she perceives that the talents and 
noble qualities of the object of her tenderness are 
appreciated as they deserve. The education of Ida 
had not been superior to that of most ladies of her 
own rank ; and in those days, though Italy as well 
as Greece could boast of some, whose extraordinary 
endowments and cultivation were esteemed an 
honour to their country ; yet, in general, the edu- 
cation of women was then, very much as it is now, 
confined to the more superficial accomplishments 
that captivate, rather than to the more solid attain- 
ments of study calculated to strengthen and enlarge 



MELANTHE. 39 

the understanding. To sing ; to dance the Romaika 
with grace ; to excel in embroidery; and acquire a 
sort of airy eloquence in the recital of fables and 
Eastern tales, when grouped together under the 
shadow of the trees, were the chief accomplishments 
of the young and beautiful Greek ladies, who 
might often have been seen assembled in the 
gardens of Ida. 

Beyond these studies, few were inclined to ven- 
ture, until the rage for the productions of Petrarch 
had reached their happy shores. Then, indeed, 
sprang up the desire of imitation ; and to emulate 
the Italian ladies in the recital of the verses of their 
gifted countryman, became the object of ambition 
to the lively Greeks, who vied with each other in 
the attainment of the language in which the son- 
nets were written. Some there were, who, having 
mastered the first difficulty, hesitated not to en- 
counter others; and latterly more than once the 
lays of Provence might have been heard floating 
gaily on the twilight air, the perfumed breath of 
which scarcely a moment before had wafted over 
the wave of the Bosphorus the tender accents of 
Italian love. 



40 MELANTHE. 

In all these light and feminine accomplishments, 
Ida shone pre-eminent ; but it was not the posses- 
sion of them which had won for her the love of 
Elphenor. It was her gentleness, her sweetness of 
temper, and the noble rectitude of mind, which 
gave to her slightest thought something sublime 
and holy, — which had irresistibly attracted one, who, 
though unshackled by a vow, had ever contemplated 
marriage as a position totally incompatible with* his 
grave and studious habits. Each day succeeding 
that upon which he had first called Ida by the 
name of wife, only tended to confirm his happiness; 
and the birth of a daughter seemed to leave to the 
delighted mother no wish ungratified. Yet, some- 
times her smile would grow sad, and a look of 
anxiety overspread her features, as she gazed upon 
her husband's brow, and beheld the gloom which 
had latterly become more apparent there. Since 
his retirement from court, Elphenor had not once 
visited Constantinople. For several weeks, however, 
Ida knew that a more constant communication than 
formerly had been maintained between her husband 
and the friends he had left in the city ; and many 
deep conferences had taken place within the walls 



MELAXTHE. 41 

of the villa with some, who, though personally 
strangers to Ida, she knew at once to be grave and 
holy men. The nature of these mysterious meet- 
ings had not been revealed by Elphenor ; and Ida 
forbore to question, when she perceived the painful 
impression they usually left upon the mind of her 
husband. The visit of the Emperor was imme- 
diately made known to her ; and deeply as she felt 
that its effects must trench upon her private peace, 
the noble heart of Ida bounded at the idea of the 
reconciliation, which would prove to the world 
that the transcendant worth and talent of him she 
adored were duly appreciated by his sovereign. 

On the following morning, with a glowing cheek, 
though tearful eye, Ida accompanied Elphenor to 
the confines of their little domain ; and standing 
with Melanthe, her infant daughter, in her arms, 
she watched the receding form of her husband, as 
with his attendants he once more took the road to 
Constantinople, until, as he slowly disappeared 
from her view, tears of joy and pride fell fast from 
her eyes. Long did she linger upon the spot 
where she had received his farewell embrace; it 
seemed as if a new life was about to open to her 



42 MELANTHE. 

view ; and she looked upon the beautiful scenery 
around, and upon every well-known object, with a 
jealous fondness, as if her heart foreboded a sepa- 
ration from all that had witnessed the perfection of 
happiness she had enjoyed upon that spot. In the 
mean time, Elphenor was advancing on his jour- 
ney ; and before Ida could rouse herself from the 
meditation into which this unlooked-for event had 
plunged her, he had once again entered Constan- 
tinople. 



CHAPTER V. 

It wanted yet some time to the usual hour of 
the assembly of the Council of Constantine, when 
Elphenor, having arrived at the entrance of the 
Hippodrome, resigned his horse to the care of 
an attendant, and proceeded on foot to the im- 
perial palace. One moment he paused, to gaze 
upon the beautiful city where he had dwelt so 
long, that each object upon which his eye rested 
seemed associated even with the years of his child- 
hood. There, at the farther end of the arena, still 
stood the brazen column — the long-wished-for 
goal, towards which during many a race the eye of 
Elphenor had been strained. There, also, glitter- 
ing in the bright sunlight, were the beautiful 
columns of green jasper, supposed to be unequalled 
in the world. They were ranged in a circle ; and 
such was their towering height, that the colossal 
statues placed at intervals between them, appeared 
but the ordinary size of mortals ; while, in the 
centre, stood the mysterious serpentine column. 



44 MELANTHE. 

round which in early days Elphenor had so often 
wandered, pondering upon the firmly-believed 
tradition of its being the identical column which 
had supported the tripod of Delphi, until, in the 
excitement of boyish superstition, he had sometimes 
feared to behold the three grisly heads of the mon- 
sters, whose twisted bodies formed the pillar, pour 
forth their separate streams of water, wine, and 
milk, as he had learned from the legends of old, 
had been the mode of their bearing testimony to 
the divinity of Apollo. 

Elphenor smiled as the recollection of those light- 
hearted days shone across his mind ; but the smile 
vanished, and a look of bitter sorrow replaced it, as 
his eye wandered over the splendours of his beloved 
city, and he felt that the foe was at its gates. 

There could not have been a spot more favour- 
ably marked by nature for the site of a metropolis 
than that which was occupied by the city of Con- 
stantinople. A striking confirmation of this opinion 
existed in the fact of its having once before been 
chosen for the capital of a kingdom. Byzas, King 
of the Megareans, founded upon it a city, which 
from him took the name of Byzantium ; and after 



MELANTHE. 45 

a great variety of vicissitudes, having fallen alter- 
nately into the hands of the Spartans, the Athe- 
nians, and the Romans, was annexed by Vespasian 
to a province. It was not, however, until the 
final struggle for the empire with Licinius, that 
the idea occurred to Constantine of founding a 
city upon the spot. Licinius had taken refuge 
in Byzantium; and during the siege, Constantine 
had full leisure to observe the advantages of the 
situation. Upon the fall of his rival, he determined 
at once to build a city of unequalled magnificence, 
and, by transporting his court thither, to make it the 
capital of the Roman Empire. Then rose up on all 
sides, as if by the wand of an enchanter, the 
splendid palaces and churches with which the Seven 
Hills still were crowned. To make his new seat of 
empire as nearly as possible resemble Rome, was the 
great object of its imperial founder, who even at- 
tempted to give it the name of " New Rome," but 
fate, or the gratitude of his people, decreed otherwise; 
and the name of Constantinople, which his subjects 
gave it in honour of their Emperor, took prece- 
dence of that which he had bestowed upon it, and 
has been preserved unchanged to the present day. 
The stupendous work of creating a capital had 



46 MELANTHE. 

been the effort of a single mind ; but it had been 
left to after-ages to complete and adorn what had 
been so nobly conceived and begun. Proud of their 
empire, the Roman Greeks had never spared either 
trouble or expense in the embellishment of their 
capital, and on all sides the eye rested upon the 
most exquisite works of art. Every country seemed 
to have contributed its most precious things ; and, 
as Elphenor stood upon the eminence he had 
gained, and looked around, as if counting the 
treasures his beloved city possessed, there might 
have been seen not merely the gems of Greek and 
Italian industry, but among columns of porphyry 
and jasper, vases and statues of worlvmanship so 
exquisite, that each threw the last observed into 
shade. At a distance, arose the towering obelisk 
and pyramid ; while gigantic forms of granite 
and basalt, grimly reposing far from their native 
shores, led the mind back to the dark lore of 
the Egyptians, and showed, as it were, by their 
stupendous proportions, how strong must have been 
the desire of the Christian emperors to embellish 
and enrich their city. 

It was but for a moment that Elphenor contem- 
plated these objects ; yet in that moment ages of 



MELANTHE. 47 

the past seemed to roll over his memory, and with 
a shudder he pictured to himself what might be 
the fate of all that he then beheld. Far different 
were the prospects of the city now, from those of 
the day which saw him a wanderer from her walls ; 
and with a bitter sigh of regret as he dwelt upon 
this idea, Elphenor quickened his pace, as if in 
haste to atone by his presence for the evil his long 
absence might have aggravated. Hurrying for- 
ward, he had already crossed the open space of the 
Hippodrome, and ascending the long flight of 
marble steps which led to the imperial palace, 
entered a gallery, where those who sought an 
audience of the Emperor were accustomed to wait 
until summoned to his presence. It was still early; 
and as it was the intention of Elphenor not to 
demand a private audience, lest, after his long 
absence it might leave the cause and manner of his 
return doubtful, he seated himself in one of the 
alcoves of the gallery, and drawing his mantle 
partly over his face, appeared lost in meditation. 
The gentle murmur of a fountain, alone broke the 
stillness of the spot ; but in a few minutes several 
persons entered at the other end of the gallery ; 



48 MELANTHE. 

and Elphenor, raising his eyes, scanned the group 
which immediately surrounded a large, dark looking 
man, whom he recognised as his old enemy, Luca 
Notaras, the Grand Admiral. He appeared at that 
moment as if in the act of disclosing some very 
important secret ; his large heavy brows were com- 
pressed into an air of peculiar gravity ; and, as he 
moved more towards the centre of the eallerv, 
Elphenor could distinctly hear the conversation 
that ensued. 

" And so the successor of Alessandro, the Grand 
Chamberlain, is to be declared to-day,"" exclaimed 
a small, thin man, on the right-hand of Notaras. 

" I am so informed by His Majesty,"' replied the 
latter, with a profound inclination of the head. 

" I hope, Signor Notaras, you will remember 
your promise to me," observed, significantly, the 
Signor Jacopo Doria, one of the chief of the 
Genoese merchants. 

" Nay, the office of protovestiare should be held 
by one of us," interrupted the handsome young 
Greek, Demetrius of Ypsara ; " you Italians are 
rich enough already," he added, with a laugh. 

" The Chamberlain of the Emperor has always 



MEI.AXTHE. 49 

boasted of a Roman lineage,'' replied Giulio Orsini, 
a haughty looking personage, who gazed upon the 
brilliant dress and smiling features of the young 
Greek Demetrius with ill-concealed disgust. 

" Now by our holy mother,'' retorted Demetrius, 
" methinks it is a bad moment for any Roman to 
look for favour, after the ungracious reception poor 
Martino Vasario has been vouchsafed at Rome. I 
hope, Signor Giulio, you have not neglected to 
prevail on his Holiness to support your application 
for the Chamberlain's office." 

" An Orsini needs but little support from others," 
observed Jacopo Doria, the Genoese, in a fawning 
tone ; being inwardly convinced that the immense 
bribe the Grand Admiral had unhesitatingly ac- 
cepted from him, would not fail of securing the 
appointment. 

*' Nay, v/e all need some sujiport," exclaimed 
Carlo Ficino, the small, thin man, who had spoken 
first, and who was a rich Venetian goldsmith ; 
" but of course," he added with more complacency, 
as he recollected he could boast of beinij connected 
with the family of the Doge, '^ a place of so niuch 
importance w^ill only be entrusted to one of noble 

VOL. I. D 



50 MELANTHE. 

birth. Poor Alessandro, few could boast of uniting 
so many advantages as he did in his own person;"" and 
with an appealing look at the Grand Admiral, who 
was nearly related to the deceased Chamberlain, 
whom no one before had ever thought of praising. 
Carlo Ficino heaved a deep sigh. 

" My friends,'"' said the Grand Admiral, pom- 
pously, " I need not now inform you, that His 
Majesty has ever placed in me the most un- 
bounded confidence.'' 

" We all know that, Signor Notaras," replied 
several voices. 

" At least, so you have told us very often 
before," boldly observed Demetrius, whose natural 
and somewhat rash gaiety of manner could not 
be subdued by the assumed importance of No- 
taras. 

The grand admiral did not deign to reply other- 
wise than by a frown ; and turning his eyes with a 
meaning look to the Genoese, whose gold he had 
received, continued — " You must be aware that 
it is His Majesty's most anxious desire that his 
old and attached allies of Genoa — and of Venice," 
he added, with a smile that was not lost upon 



MELANTHE. 51 

Carlo Ficino, " should ever be called to bear 
their part in all the great offices of state, though 
some evil-disposed persons have ventured to in- 
sinuate that a natural partiality for his fellow- 
countrymen of Greece, has sometimes weighed 
against the claims of the noblest of the Romans." 

" I must confess, that I think His Majesty's ap- 
pointments show a most impartial spirit," observed 
the Orsini, who, remarking the stress which No- 
taras had laid upon the last words, already fancied 
himself Grand Chamberlain. 

" Yes, yes ; we all know the Emperor is the most 
noble and generous prince on earth," exclaimed 
Demetrius; "a prince," he added, with enthu- 
siasm, "worth living or dying for; so you have 
not told us any news, Signor Notaras : but since 
His Majesty has placed in you such unbounded 
confidence, perhaps he has informed you who is to 
be Grand Chamberlain ; and if so, I pray, in the 
name of all, that you will relieve our curiosity." 

The group of aspirants gazed with anxiety 
upon the face of Notaras; but the latter, pro- 
voked by the manner in which Demetrius had 
ventured to mimick his words, and unwiUing to 



LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY ^ mM 



52 ^ MELANTHE. 

appear irritated at the folly of one whom he 
affected to consider as a boy, merely drew himself 
up, as he replied — 

" I am much grieved that it is not in my pov/er 
to afford the Signor Demetrius the information 
he seeks. Doubtless, His Majesty will declare his 
intention at this morning's council." So saying, 
he turned towards the upper end of the gallery, 
and placed himself close to the door through which 
it was usual to pass to the council-room ; upon 
which several other persons, who had not ventured 
to address themselves to the little knot of favoured 
ones surrounding the Grand Admiral, advanced, 
and, in the murmur of general conversation which 
ensued, Elphenor could no longer distinguish a 
word. 

He had, however, heard sufficient to inform 
him exactly of the state to which the absence of 
more worthy councillors had reduced the Emperor. 
The few, whose words he had overheard, were but 
a type of the many, who, in their factious and 
avaricious motives, entirely lost sight of aught, 
save personal aggrandizement ; and he foresaw that 
a strong and steady hand alone could now restrain 



MELANTHE. BS 

the turbulence of those, to whom the safety of the 
state might ere long be committed. Occupied 
with these reflections, it had not occurred to 
Elphenor that his own position at that moment 
was rather perplexing. It had been his wish to 
mingle in the crowd at the time it was summoned 
to the presence of the Emperor, thus avoiding all 
question or remark : — but already the usual hour 
had passed, and still the doors of the council- 
chamber remained closed. Elphenor hesitated for 
a moment — but the fact of having unintentionally 
overheard the conversation of others, determined 
him no longer to remain unobserved amongst them ; 
and rising from his seat, he had just advanced 
to the gallery, when an unusual bustle at the 
opposite end attracted all eyes, the imperial guard 
ranged themselves rapidly on either side of the 
door, and, preceded by his officers, Constantine 
entered the gallery. 

The surprise, not unmingled with consternation, 
which this departure from the ordinary routine 
of proceedings excited, was visible upon every 
countenance ; and the assembled courtiers instantly 
advanced, ranging themselves as they walked on 



54 MELANTHE. 

either side. Constantine, however, did not ap- 
pear to see them. Hastily his eye scanned the 
bowing crowd ; the face he sought was not among 
the many presented to his view, and a look 
of disappointment overspread his countenance; 
until, turning to the right, he beheld Elphenor 
standing almost close to him. A smile of delight 
instantly lighted up features, that, even in repose, 
were strikingly handsome ; and pausing for a mo- 
ment to accept the homage rendered to him by his 
former councillor, he held out his hand, — then 
leaning familiarly upon his arm, walked with him 
through the crowd, and placed him by his side at 
the head of the council table. Nothing could sur- 
pass the dismay which this unexpected event had 
too evidently produced amongst the ministers of 
the Emperor; but when Constantine, who knew 
well how to assume the dignity proper to his state, i 
proceeded formally to declare to the members of 
his council, his intention of bestowing the much 
envied office of Grand Chamberlain upon Elphenor, 
the rage which swelled the bosoms of the disap- 

-.., pointed aspirants, became almost uncontrollable. 

"^ Amongst them, no one was more filled with con- 



MELANTHE. 55 

sternation than the Grand Admiral himself; for, 
notwithstanding the hopes which he had continued 
to instil into the minds of others, until the last 
moment he had fully persuaded himself that the 
Emperor had yielded to his prayers, and was about 
to bestow the vacant place upon Alessandro Nota- 
ras, his only son. But the will of the Emperor 
was absolute ; and a resolution thus declared at the 
council table, Notaras well knew was irrevocable. 
It was only when Constantine debated, and asked 
counsel, that any hope presented itself, that one of 
his moments of weakness was at hand ; and Nota- 
ras stood too much in awe of the powerful mind 
of Elphenor, to venture an appearance of open 
opposition to him. He, therefore, during the time 
that the council lasted, contrived to repress all 
demonstration of the envy and anger with which 
his heart overflowed ; and on quitting the chamber, 
no smile was more bland, no expressions more 
courteous, than those which met the eye and greeted 
the ear of Elphenor, from the lips of the wily 
Notaras. 

Elphenor, though austere, was a man of polished 
address ; and he replied to the endless congratula- 



56 



MELANTHE. 



tions which assailed him on all sides, with the 
utmost graciousness of manner. It was only on 
great occasions he thought it necessary to be 
severe. His own interest, was a consideration of 
little moment ; but for Constantine, his sovereign 
and his friend, his heart was 'susceptible of the 
most lively emotion ; and the acute powers of dis- 
cernment with which nature had gifted him, were 
doubly alive, when the interests of the Emperor 
were at stake. 

The office of Grand Chamberlain at that time 
differed widely from the contemptible insignifi- 
cance into which it afterwards sunk. A noble 
Greek or Roman would have thought himself for 
ever degraded, had the duties of this office re- 
sembled those of the present day ; the real privi- 
leges which the situation conferred, were of a far 
higher order, and more nearly resembled those 
enjoyed by a prime minister. In some respects, 
however, it differed materially. With a monarch 
whose will was arbitrary, all consultation with his 
ministers was of course voluntary on his part; 
and though, since the accession of Constantine, the 
form of a council had been instituted, yet it was 



I 



MELANTHE. 57 

not unusual that some sudden change of purpose 
took place ; and it was then the duty of the Cham- 
berlain to convey the wishes of the Emperor to 
the proper authority, and to hold himself respon- 
sible for their execution. 

It was also necessary that the person who filled 
the office of Chamberlain, should be perfectly ac- 
quainted with the manners and customs of other 
nations — their language, form of government, and 
the resources of which they were capable ; and this 
not only as far as the allies of the Emperor 
were concerned, but all those countries with which 
it had been brought, or was likely to come into 
contact. To preserve the correspondence with 
foreign powers, and register in the archives of the 
empire every event worthy of record, was another 
duty of the Chamberlain ; and it may be supposed 
that the person who was intended to fill the office, 
was naturally sought for amongst the most in- 
telligent, and educated men of an age, when the 
thirst for learning was at its height. 

Added to this;, the Chamberlain alone had his 
residence in the imperial palace, where a numerous 
retinue was appointed for his use. He also had 
I) 5 



58 



MELANTHK. 



the right of access at all hours to the royal pre- 
sence; and no appointments or rewards could be 
bestowed without his sanction and his seal. It is 
not surprising that a post, uniting so many advan- 
tages, should have been eagerly sought after, or the 
arduous duties it imposed forgotten ; or that in the 
short interval which had elapsed since the death of 
the last Grand Chamberlain, the secret hope which 
animated every breast of obtaining the vacant 
place, had rendered the court of Constantine one 
continued scene of underhand intrigue. 



I 



CHAPTER VI. 

The first decision of the Emperor was one which 
by no means accorded with the wishes of Elphenor. 
It was to send ambassadors to Rome and to 
Adrianople. The object of the mission to Rome 
was to solicit anew the interference of the Pope ; 
and, in order more fully to convince his Holiness of 
the good faith and true spirit of submission in 
which the promise was made, Constantine had 
instructed his envoy to declare, that the long 
deferred project of the union of the two churches 
should be immediately carried into effect, if the 
Pope would openly sanction the act, by sending 
a legate to Constantinople, to be present during 
the religious ceremony by which the union would 
be consummated. By this timely act of sub- 
mission, the Emperor hoped to secure the appear- 
ance at least of that protection from the Holy See, 
which he knew, in the event of his being placed in 



60 



MELANTHE. 



a situation of difficulty, would materially influence 
many of his allies in their conduct towards him. 

In thus calculating, the good sense of Constantine 
had enabled him to form a just opinion; but the 
judicious policy of this step was more than counter- 
balanced by the extraordinary determination with 
which he adhered to his plan of also sending an 
ambassador to the court of his powerful, though 
not yet openly avowed enemy, Mahomet II. It 
was a difficult and a dangerous undertaking; and 
in vain Elphenor endeavoured to dissuade the 
Emperor from adopting it. No act of sufficient 
hostility to warrant reprisals had as yet taken 
place between the Greeks and the Ottomans. To 
ask for peace, where war had not been declared, was 
palpably an injudicious measure; yet such was the 
anxiety of the Emperor to avert, if possible, the 
storm which he felt was gathering round him, 
that he could not rest, and eagerly caught at the 
first occasion which presented itself, of opening a 
negotiation with the Sultan ; vainly hoping, that if 
no other benefit resulted from the measure, he 
might at least ascertain the real feelings of the 
Ottoman court towards himself, and also discover 



r 



MELANTHE. 61 

whether the reports which had lately reached him, 
of the extent of the warlike preparations of Ma- 
homet, were well founded. 

Some depredations of a serious nature had been 
committed by the Turkish soldiery upon the 
inhabitants of a small Greek village adjoining 
Constantinople. All redress having been refused 
by the Ottoman general, Constantine resolved to 
profit by the opportunity, and send a messenger 
to Mahomet, demanding an investigation of the 
affair ; and at the same time offering a renewal of 
all the promises of friendship and goodwill which, 
notwithstanding the secret designs of the Sultan, 
had been constantly interchanged between him and 
the Emperor. 

With unshaken firmness Constantine persevered 
in this scheme, although secretly forced to admit 
that the step was hazardous ; but such was the 
importance he attached to its success, that he 
selected Elphenor as his ambassador. Elphenor, 
however, better informed than his sovereign as to 
the real disposition of the Sultan, immediately set 
before Constantine the danger he was about to pro- 
voke, and the advantage which Mahomet would not 



62 MELANTHE. 

fail to reap from this display of weakness. All 
was unavailing. The measure had long been a 
favourite scheme of the Emperor ; and, from the 
determination of his manner, Elphenor fearing 
that if he were positively to decline the embassy, it 
would be entrusted to one perhaps less fervently 
devoted to the interests of his country, reluctantly 
accepted a commission, from which he judged too 
truly that little benefit could result. Such was the 
feverish impatience of Con stan tine for the realiza- 
tion of his hope of extorting from the Sultan some 
concession, or promise, which might secure peace 
between them, that he insisted upon the immediate 
departure of Elphenor for Adrianople, where the 
Sultan then resided; and preparations were instantly 
begun, in order to arrange and adorn the gorgeous 
train by which the ambassador of the Emperor 
was to be accompanied. 

The will of an absolute monarch is as the touch 
of a magician's wand. In a short time, a mag- 
nificent retinue was prepared. Gifts from the 
royal treasure were selected as suitable oiFerings to 
the barbarians they were intended to appease ; and 
the armoury of the Imperial palace rendered up all 



MELANTHE. 63 

that was most precious and dazzling within its 
walls, to adorn the troops which were to serve as 
the escort. In three days all was completed, as if 
by enchantment; and from the throne in the 
Hippodrome, from whence the emperors were ac- 
customed to behold the celebration of the public 
games, in the magnificence of which Constantinople 
still stood unrivalled, Constantine now looked 
down, with an almost childish delight, upon the 
splendid cavalcade which was to set forth the 
following morning ; but which first, by his orders, 
displayed its grandeur to the eyes of the admiring 
citizens, who flocked in crowds to view the pro- 
cession as it passed along the open space of the 
Hippodrome. 

Though grievously decayed from its ancient 
state, Constantinople still boasted of treasures of 
inestimable value; and all were now lavished by 
the anxious Constantine, in the futile hope that the 
magnificence of the embassy might convey a false 
estimate of the resources his empire afforded. The 
cavalcade which was to accompany Elphenor, re- 
sembled more the triumphant bands of a conqueror, 
than the train of a suppliant for redress and justice. 



64 MELANTHE. 

The march was opened by a troop of cavahy, 
in armour of Milan steel richly inlaid with gold. 
The bridles of the horses were heavily embossed 
with the same metal, which also glittered upon 
their light and beautiful breast-plates of chain 
armour. At the head of the troop rode the officers, 
mounted on superb steeds, also equipped for war ; 
and with accoutrements of the most costly de- 
scription. These were followed by a band of foot 
soldiers, who in their turn were succeeded by two 
rows of chariots, containing the musicians belong- 
ing to the Imperial palace, who kept up a succession 
of martial airs during the procession. After the 
musicians had past, the secretaries and physicians 
appeared, with the other officers who were to ac- 
company the ambassador, all splendidly mounted 
and accoutred. Behind these, and distinguished 
by the simplicity of their attire, rode four of the 
chief of the holy men of Constantinople ; two wore 
the habit of the Caloyers, and the other two were 
Latins. 

But the chief attraction of the gay crowd that 
lined the Hippodrome to view the procession, 
seemed to be the mao^nificent horses which had 



MELANTHE. 65 

been taken from the Imperial stables, to swell the 
grandeur of the train. They were of the noble 
race which had been obtained at so much cost from 
the plains which lie at the foot of the Mount 
Argaeus ; a race so highly prized, that a celebrated 
rebel chief had been ransomed, and restored to his 
liberty and estates, by a sacrifice of some horses of 
the true Palmatian breed. 

These horses, which were matchless for their 
splendid proportions and surpassing speed, were 
reserved solely for the Emperor and the imperial 
games; no subject was allowed to procure them, 
even from their own country, without informing 
his sovereign, who instantly commanded the pur- 
chase of the animal at any price, and thereby se- 
cured to himself the exclusive possession of the 
breed. Constantine was more proud of these animals 
than of any of his treasures ; upon no other occa- 
sion had they ever formed a part of the retinue of 
any one save the Emperor himself; but having 
heard of the extreme value which the Sultan 
attached to this breed of horses, the Greek Emperor 
could not resist the temptation of displaying their 
beauty to the admiring eyes of the Infidels, and at 



66 



MELANTHE. 



once decided that they should form part of the 
pageant, by which he hoped to delude the enemy 
into a belief of his wealth and resources. 

Each horse was led by two grooms in the impe- 
rial livery. In order the better to display the ex- 
traordinary power and beauty of their form, they 
did not wear the deep embroidered housings which 
were used on state occasions ; but only a light har- 
ness and bridle, from which depended two long 
reins, which were held on either side by the grooms. 
A plume of the most brilliantly coloured feathers 
was fastened upon their foreheads, sparkling, 
as well as the narrow harness which defined 
their shape, with innumerable jewels ; while their 
long and flowing manes were confined at intervals 
by knots of precious stones and long pear-shaped 
pearls. Ten of these magnificent animals preceded, 
and as many followed the car of state which con- 
tained Elphenor. A column of infantry closed the 
brilliant procession ; and a variety of attendants, 
tent-bearers, sumpter horses, and mules, brought 
up the rear, which was guarded by another small 
body of cavalry. 

Never, even in those days, when the state consi- 



MELANTHE. 67 

dered the glory of its ambassador as its own, had 
so gorgeous a train departed from the walls of 
any city ; and when the inhabitants of Constanti- 
nople beheld the magnificence of their Emperor, 
their love of show overcame all the feelings of 
anger with which his attempt to interfere with 
their religion had filled them, and a simultaneous 
shout arose from the countless multitude who lined 
the great arena, and thousands of voices invoked 
blessings on their sovereign, and offered up prayers 
for his success. 

Nor was the name of Elphenor forgotten. The 
dignity of his virtue had endeared him to all who 
had the interest of their country sincerely at heart, 
and his recal to power was hailed by them as a 
good omen. The jealousy of individuals was lost 
in the general gladness, and the heart of the amia- 
ble and well-intentioned monarch bounded with joy, 
as he marked the favourable reception of him whom 
he loved as a father. On that day, all appeared to 
smile upon the sanguine Constantine ; and retiring 
to his palace, after the bright pageant he had wit- 
nessed had dispersed, he gave himself up to hopes 
of the future, which, alas ! only borrowed their 
^ustre from the sunshine of his own breast. 



€8 MEL ANT HE. 

Not SO Elphenor ! Having at length escaped 
from the wearisome display, which he looked upon 
as the vain gilding of a sepulchre, he had hastened 
to quit the city, from which his final departure was 
fixed for the next day, and seek a moment's solace 
in the retirement of his own home, and the presence 
of his beloved Ida. Too truly had the heart 
of Ida foreboded that sorrow and anxiety would 
mingle in her portion of the destiny in which, by 
his reconciliation with the Emperor, Elphenor must 
necessarily be involved. Three days had elapsed 
without any tidings from Constantinople having 
been received at the villa. Was she, then, so soon 
forgotten ? It was the first time the heart of Ida 
had asked the question ; for it was the first time 
since her marriage that she had felt unhappy; and 
as if the sense of separation from her husband made 
her cling still more fondly to her child, she had 
scarcely left the cradle in which Melanthe reposed. 
Oppressed by a vague sense of danger and of fear, 
she had continued to watch even during the night; 
but it was not until the evening of the third day, 
as she was sitting beside her treasure, her pale face 
bowed upon her hands, that Elphenor entered the 
room. 



MELANTHE. 59 

Ida sprang from her seat, and, without speaking, 
buried her head upon the breast of her husband, 
as she clasped her arms round him. There was in 
that mute embrace such eloquence of love — such 
tenderness and truth, that it touched Elphenor 
more than the most passionate professions of attach- 
ment could have done. He felt that his absence 
had been mourned, — the moments counted until 
his return ; and, as he pressed the loving form that 
twined around him still closer to his heart, it 
swelled with sadness, for he knew that his first 
words would bring tears to those eyes he dared not 
look upon in sorrow. In a few moments Ida raised 
her head, and leaning back upon the arm which 
encircled her waist, she looked up in the face of 
her husband with a trembling smile, as she said, — 
" You will not leave me again, Elphenor ?" 
" Alas !'' replied Elphenor, " would that it 
were possible for me to remain : — but it cannot 
be; this day — this very hour, we must part again. 
Nay, w-eep not,'' he added quickly ; " do not weep, 
my beloved Ida. It is the Emperor's command. 
You would not wish that I should falter in my 
duty.'' 



70 MELANTHE. 

'' That you could never do," said Ida, proudly. 
" I spoke in haste. But I have been so wretched 
in your absence. Why must we part .?" 

" I will tell you all," replied Elphenor ; " and 
you will be the first to say, ' Elphenor has been 
right.^ " 

And when Elphenor had related the circum- 
stances which had occurred, and the motives which 
had led to his acceptance of the office which must 
for a time separate him from his home, the 
murmurs of Ida were hushed. Once convinced, 
she no longer urged him to remain ; but her tears 
only flowed the faster. 



CHAPTER VII. 

The following morning, Elphenor departed upon 
his mission. The journey to Adrianople was to 
occupy several days, and many were the impreca- 
tions called forth from the younger portion of the 
officers who formed the suite of the Ambassador, by 
the slow and stately mode of travelling, necessitated 
by so large and cumbersome a train. Among the 
most impatient of those who longed to endeavour 
to penetrate the mysteries of an Ottoman city, was 
the young Greek Demetrius of Ypsara. By the 
frank and spirited expression of his devotion and 
attachment to his sovereign, which had been unin- 
tentionally overheard by Elphenor in the gallery 
of the Imperial palace, Demetrius had so won upon 
his affections that he had been appointed one of the 
chief officers who were to accompany the Ambas- 
sador to Adrianople. Great was the jealousy which 
this preference had at first occasioned ; for Deme- 



72 MELANTHE. 

trius had but just attained the age of manhood ; and 
from the extreme beauty of his person, and con- 
sequent attention to his dress and equipments, was 
looked upon by those not so bountifully endowed 
by nature as a mere boy, totally unfit for any situ- 
ation of importance. But the eye of Elphenor had 
more discernment, and he soon discovered in the 
young Greek symptoms of a noble heart and un- 
daunted courage ; and urged on by the sympathy 
which one fine nature instantly conceives for another, 
he had not hesitated to place Demetrius at once in 
a situation of confidence and honour. Each suceed- 
ing hour of their acquaintance, served to confirm the 
good impression which theyoungman had made upon 
Elphenor ; and during the tedious days of their 
progress to the city of the Sultan, the harassed mind 
of the Ambassador seemed to repose with delight 
upon the freshness of thought and feeling which, 
in the fallen and depraved state of intellect which 
pervaded the Greeks of that day, so eminently dis- 
tinguished Demetrius from his slavish and money- 
loving countrymen. 

" Had all who call themselves the sons of Greece, 
thy honesty and thy spirit,'' said Elphenor to him- 



MELANTHE. 73 

self, '^ then, indeed, the powers of the fierce Maho- 
met would have little terror for the empire of the 
East !" And Elphenor looked, mournfully on the 
glowing countenance of the noble youth who rode 
by his side, and listened to the ardent aspirations 
and generous hopes which broke from his lips, as he 
spoke of the high renown it was his ambition to 
obtain, and the glories of the empire, when it should 
have forced the haughty Sultan to submission, until 
he almost longed to have been able to exchange the 
deep foresight which his own learning and expe- 
rience had given him for the happy confidence with 
which the joyous nature of unpractised youth looked 
forward to the uncertain future. 

On the evening of the sixth day of their journey, 
Elphenor, with his train, found themselves within a 
short distance of Adrianople ; and the Ambassador 
having commanded that the usual preparations 
should be made for passing the night, proceeded, as 
was customary upon such occasions, to dispatch a 
messenger to the Grand Vizier, informing him of 
the approach of the Ambassador from the Emperor, 
and demanding an audience of the Sultan. 

Calil Pacha, for so the Grand Vizier was named, 

VOL. I. E 



74 MELANTHE. 

received this information as he was leaving his own 
palace to attend the summons of the Sultan; affect- 
ing surprise and consternation, he hastened to the 
Royal presence, and prostrating himself as one in 
the most abject fear, revealed the audacity, as he 
was pleased to call it, of a handful of Christians 
thus daring to present themselves at the Court of 
the Sultan of the Universe ! 

Little did Mahomet imagine that the news which 
Calil Pacha pretended to announce in fear and 
trembling, as an event totally unexpected, had been 
known to him from the very hour when the bright 
array of the procession had passed before the eyes 
of the Emperor Constantine. For some time, the 
traitorous Vizier had been in close correspondence 
with the Christians ; and it was not without secret 
misgivings that he had learned the sudden determi- 
nation of the Emperor to send an embassy to the 
Sultan. He trembled lest any accident might 
divulge his treasonable and underhand proceedings, 
to which in fact the measure of the Emperor might 
be in a great degree attributed, for the intense 
anxiety displayed by the Vizier to establish a good 
understanding with the Christians had led Constan- 



MELANTHE. 75 

tine into a false belief of the opinion entertained at 
the Ottoman Court of the power and resources of 
Constantinople. 

If Calil professed this belief, it was not partici- 
pated in by the superior mind of his Sovereign. 
Mahomet saw not through the eyes of his Vizier. 
Better informed as to the actual state of the empire, 
no sooner did he hear of the magnificent appoint- 
ments with which the Christian Ambassador had 
arrived, than he instantly penetrated the shallow 
device, and exclaiming, " They have come to us 
like lions, but we will receive them like foxes," he 
gave orders that the most sumptuous preparations 
should be m.ade for the reception of the Christian 
Ambassador and his train. 

A palace was assigned for the dwelling of 
Elphenor ; and some of the chief officers of the 
Sultan were commanded always to be in readiness, 
to show every attention to the strangers that was 
consistent with Turkish etiquette. An early day 
was named for the audience of the Ambassador; 
and even the Grand Vizier was deceived by the 
unusual tone of condescension which his sovereign 
had suddenly adopted towards his enemies. 



76 MELANTHE. 

The mind of Calil misgave him. Being con- 
stantly engaged in some intrigue for his own profit, 
he naturally distrusted the motives of others. 
Though Mahomet, who was unequalled in the art 
of dissembling, had always appeared to confide in 
him, the Vizier lived in a state of perpetual fear. 
He could not forget that, upon the abdication of 
Amurath, the father of Mahomet, in favour of his 
son, he had strongly opposed the coronation of that 
young prince, who had no sooner been crowned 
than he found Calil Pacha the most devoted of his 
slaves; but that when, a short time afterwards, it 
had pleased the former Sultan to emerge from his 
retirement, and remount his throne, Amurath had 
met with a strenuous supporter of the scheme in 
the person of the Grand Vizier. Although, in the 
double part he had played between the father and 
the son, he had merely consulted his own interest, 
and had not been actuated by ill-will towards 
Mahomet, Calil never fancied himself safe in the 
presence of his sovereign ; and if a frown darkened 
the brow of the Sultan, the unfortunate Vizier 
became paralyzed with fear. He had amassed 
enormous riches, and would at any moment have 



MELANTHE. 77 

deserted to the Greek Emperor, could he have 
made terms sufficiently advantageous to himself. 
His surprise at the mode of reception vouchsafed 
by the Sultan to Elphenor was very great ; but 
lest he might in any way be suspected of favouring 
the Christians, he affected to deliver the sentiments 
of his master as totally differing from his own ; and 
in the first interview which he had with the Am- 
bassador, he did not fail to reproach the servants of 
the Emperor for having ventured to insist upon 
the justice of their claims to redress, and unspar- 
ingly bestowed upon their whole nation those terms 
of reproach and vilification which were the cus- 
tomary offering of the Turks to those whom they 
affected to despise. 

The true disposition of Calil was perfectly known 
to Elphenor, and he therefore quietly submitted to 
the treatment of the Grand Vizier, resolving not to 
hold communication upon matters of importance 
with any one but the Sultan himself. 

The day which had been appointed for the 
audience of the Ambassador at length arrived, and 
he was ushered, with all the usual ceremonies, into 
the august presence of the Sultan. Never before 



78 MELANTHE. 

had anything so dazzling met the eye of Elphenor. 
The walls of the room which Mahomet had selected 
as his audience chamber, were of mother-o''-pearl, 
inlaid with gold, and precious stones of every 
colour ; and whatever portion of the floor was left 
uncovered by the rich Persian carpets, appeared 
to be composed of lapis lazuli and porphyry, 
curiously inlaid with ivory and malachite, forming 
the most beautiful borders of arabesque design. 
The steps which led to the throne of the Sultan 
were all of ivory and gold; and the divan and 
cushions with which the room was surrounded were 
of the richest stuffs, brocaded with gold and silver. 
The throne, upon which sat the Sultan, together 
with his own dress, were of a splendour which cast 
all surrounding objects into the shade; and even 
the canopy of crimson velvet above his head, 
was fringed with a deep border of jewels, and 
looped up in front with a massive chain of 
diamonds, above which sparkled a crescent, the 
light of which was so brilliant, that it dazzled the 
eyes of the beholders. Yet, amidst all this gorgeous 
display, one object alone seriously arrested the 
anxious eye of Elphenor. It was the glorious face 






MELANTHE. 79 

and form of the young Sultan, before whom the 
world had already began to tremble. 

Mahomet was at this time just two-and-twenty, 
and presented in his person a splendid specimen of 
manly beauty. Tall, and finely proportioned, with 
an air of majesty and command, which, in the 
meanest attire, v/ould have distinguished him from 
all others, he had also been gifted with features of 
the utmost regularity. To those habituated to the 
usual cast of countenance among the Ottomans, the 
expression of the face of Mahomet must have been 
singularly striking. It never for a moment assumed 
the perfect stillness, which, from being so generally 
adopted, appears a national characteristic of the 
Turks. Even when silent, the fine dark eyes of 
the Sultan appeared to dilate and contract, as 
though an after-thought had suggested considera- 
tion of some step which he at first had meditated ; 
and then the half smile, which, for an instant, had 
revealed teeth of the most pearly whiteness, would 
settle down to a look of the sternest determination. 
But it was in speaking that the extraordinary 
powers of expression in the countenance of Maho- 
met more particularly developed themselves, and 



80 MELANTHE. 

the rapid changes which passed over it would have 
embellished the plainest features. 

There were moments, however, when the stoutest 
heart trembled to look upon that face : moments, 
when the bitter scowl of ferocious passion showed 
that the unbridled spirit was at work within, and 
like the tempest-cloud struggling athwart the sky, 
foretold darkness and death ! The extraordinary 
genius and acquirements of Mahomet had not left 
him in ignorance of any of the points of his own 
character; and although he never hesitated to 
practise the blackest arts of treachery and deceit, 
when they suited his purpose, yet so well aware 
was he of the policy of the appearance of honour 
and good faith, that he could at any time assume 
the semblance of honesty when convinced that his 
interests required it. 

The character of this extraordinary man was the 
more striking, from being in many respects totally 
at variance with that of his own nation. The 
Turks were proverbial for profound ignorance and 
passive indifference. Mahomet, on the contrary, 
was susceptible of the most lively emotions. Rest- 
less and active, nothing escaped his observation ; 



MELANTHE. 81 

and a just decision upon the most important points, 
with him was the work of an instant. In an age 
when reading and writing were almost unattainable 
accomplishments, even to the noblest of the land, 
Mahomet was not only thoroughly versed in the 
literature of his own country, but wrote and spoke 
with fluency seven or eight foreign languages. 
From his earliest years he had betrayed an insati- 
able thirst for knowledge — a just appreciation of 
all that was most sublime, whether in literature or 
the arts, and to be considered a patron of learning 
was to him an object of ambition. 

With all these claims to admiration, the character 
of Mahomet was stained by vices of the deepest 
dye. He was cruel even to the most barbarous 
ferocity, false, sensual, and blasphemous ; whilst he 
indulged in childish superstition. The acuteness 
of his mind very soon revealed to him the fallacies 
and impostures of the Mahomedan creed, while, 
in order to maintain a firmer hold over the mind of 
his people, he ever appeared the most zealous of 
the followers of the Prophet, performing his ablu- 
tions with scrupulous exactness, — avoiding the use 
of wine, — and minutely fulfilling every duty, which 
E 5 



82 MELANTHE. 

was practised by the most rigid Mussulman. By 
this profound hypocrisy, he could deceive the mul- 
titude ; but an intellect like that of Mahomet, could 
not be convinced by forms ; and the result of the 
utter contempt in which he held the religion he 
professed, was an equal disbelief in all others. 
Had the marvellous powers of mind which he 
possessed been enlightened and directed by Chris- 
tianity, there is no doubt that Mahomet would 
have been a good as well as a great prince ; but 
amidst the darkness of Mahomedanism, those very 
powers only served as incentives to the deeds of 
atrocity by which his career was stained, owing to 
the advantages the superiority of his intellect, re- 
leased from all restraint, enabled him to take over 
the rest of mankind. 

Such was the Prince before whom Elphenor now 
stood ; and it needed but one fiery glance of the 
young despot to convince those upon whom it 
turned, that any attempt to trifle with, or impose 
upon him, would be vain. Upon this occasion, 
however, the necessity for dissembling was upon 
his side. To beguile and amuse the Greek Emperor 
with fair words and promises, until his own prepa- 



MELAXTHE. 83 

rations for war were farther advanced, was the first 
object of the wily Mahomet. With a smile of the 
utmost benignity he received the address of Elphe- 
nor ; but when the interpreter of the latter, accord- 
ing to the usual custom, was proceeding to translate 
the message of the Ambassador into the Turkish 
tongue, the Sultan by a hasty gesture stopped his 
speech ; and at once with the greatest ease and 
fluency delivered his answer in the language used 
by Elphenor, accompanying his words with gestures 
full of grace, and a tone of condescension which 
filled the heart of the latter with dark forebodings. 
Nothing could exceed the surprise of all the 
attendant officers of state at this unwonted reception 
of the Greek Ambassador. Hitherto, they had been 
accustomed only to the usual mode of audience, 
which was discourteous in the extreme, the Sultan 
generally sitting as though he did not* understand 
one word of what was said to him ; and after it had 
been explained by the interpreter, merely vouch- 
safing a few syllables, in a tone of off'ended dignity. 
The sudden change in the manner of their sove- 
reign was most unaccountable ; but to the grand 
Vizier it was perplexing to such a degree, that to 



84 MELANTHE. 

repress all outward sign of the agony of mind he 
endured, was impossible. 

Calil Pacha was a thick, short man, with a smooth, 
red face, and scanty grizzled beard. He squinted 
slightly with both eyes ; but, when excited, this 
defect became painfully apparent. Turkish eti- 
quette forbids the slightest demonstration of emo- 
tion of any kind, in the presence of the Sultan. 
Though versed by long experience in all the arts 
of courtly deception, the unfortunate Vizier no 
sooner perceived that by the present disposition of 
his master towards the Greeks, not only his own 
avaricious views might be destroyed, but also that 
there was imminent danger of his traitorous prac- 
tices being brought to light, than all presence of 
mind seemed to abandon him. He remained in his 
place trembling from head to foot ; his eyes turned 
with the most horrible squint towards every person 
present, and the perspiration fell in large drops 
from his beard. He was very asthmatic, and in his 
efforts to restrain the inclination to cough, which 
his hurried breathing provoked, his face assumed 
almost a purple hue, and with lips apart he gasped 
for breath. 



MELANTHE. 85 

Once only the eye of the Sultan fell upon him. 
Fortunately the glance was not repeated, or the 
agitated Vizier must have sunk to the ground. 
Mahomet, whose eagle eye detected the smallest 
change of countenance in those around him, had 
instantly marked the confusion of Calil, and as 
instantly determined not to provoke the obser- 
vation of others, by appearing to notice it, re- 
serving for some future opportunity the heavy 
punishment to which he destined his victim, 
should he find his suspicions of his fidelity re- 
alized. At that moment, however, Calil was 
useful ; and the mind of Mahomet was too full 
of the grand enterprise he meditated, to allow 
him to occupy himself with minor details. 

His first object was, if possible, to delay the 
return of Elphenor to Constantinople, and, to 
effect this, he made use of a singular device. 
As soon as he had received the message of the 
Emperor, and replied to it in the most gracious 
words, he communicated to Elphenor a wish he 
had long entertained, and which from its trifling 
nature he felt assured would readily be granted 
by Constantine. This was — the cession of a very 



86 MELANTHE. 

small portion of land upon the shores of the 
Bosphorus, within a few miles of the city of 
Constantinople. To the exact situation of the 
spot he appeared indifferent ; and upon observ- 
ing the hesitation of Elphenor, ere he replied 
to this extraordinary demand, the Sultan unbound 
the splendid shawl which girded his waist, and 
throwing it on the floor declared his willingness 
to accept of even as small a portion of land as 
could be covered by that shawl, in order, as he 
said, to be able to place even a stool where he 
might sometimes sit to enjoy the beauty of the 
scenery for which the environs of Constantinople 
were so celebrated. 

Elphenor plainly saw that some meaning of ter- 
rific import lurked beneath the apparent simplicity 
of this prayer. He instantly replied, that to grant 
or refuse such a request was not within the limits 
of the powers with which he had been entrusted 
by his Sovereign ; — that the wishes of the Sultan 
should be forthwith conveyed to the Emperor of 
the Greeks; — and that he himself would await 
at Adrianople the return of his messenger. This 
was exactly what Mahomet desired; and im- 






MELAXTHE. 87 

mediately after the customary exchange of presents 
had been made, he broke up the audience, and 
retired to his palace, well pleased with the ad- 
vantage which he felt he had obtained. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

It was at the delicious hour of sunset, when the 
fair Chezme, daughter of Calil Pacha, the Grand 
Vizier, quitted the walls of her father's palace toenjoy 
the freshness of the air on the banks of the river 
Maritza, which flowed at the bottom of the garden. 
Wrapped in her silver veil she proceeded alone 
to the kiosk which had been built expressly for her, 
in the most retired and shaded spot of that beautiful 
garden. Surrounded by a thick screen of cypress 
and laurel, though in the bosom of the city of Adri- 
anople, her retreat was completely secluded, for 
even the bank which sloped gradually down to the 
deep and rapid river, was thickly planted with trees 
and odoriferous shrubs, and bounded by a high 
balustrade of marble, which bid defiance to the 
curiosity of such, as gliding by in their light caiques, 
might have been tempted to pry into the secrets of 
the harem of the Vizier. 



MELANTHE. 89 

The maiden, who now entered the kiosk, or sum- 
mer house, situated in the midst of the garden, was 
the only daughter of Calil Pacha; and from the 
fierceness of her temper, and her imperious disposi- 
tion, had obtained so complete a dominion over her 
weak and unprincipled father, that she enjoyed a 
liberty and absence of control, far beyond that which 
was permitted to the other inmates of the harem, 
or to Turkish women in general. The room in 
which she seated herself on entering the kiosk, 
was raised a few steps from the ground ; and owing 
to this circumstance, commanded a better view of 
the garden and river. The roof was in the form of 
a cupola, and was supported by marble columns, of 
which a second row formed as it were the outward 
walls of the building. A gilded lattice work filled up 
the space between the pillars, and being covered 
outside with a variety of fragrant creepers, pre- 
sented a wall of flowers impervious to the view of 
those who stood without. The lattice could only 
be opened from the inside ; and in several places 
the roses and jessamines were carefully twined aside, 
so as to leave full space for the view of the fair 
occupants of the apartment. A large marble foun- 



90 MELANTHE. 

tain played in the middle of the room ; the 
choicest singing birds, confined in aviaries of golden 
wire in different parts of the garden, filled the air 
with their sweet warbling ; while the glow of an 
Eastern sunset tinged every flower with a still 
brighter hue than it was wont to wear. 

Yet the lady who looked upon this scene of 
enchantment marked not its brightness — perhaps 
the small and jewelled mirror which she held in her 
hand, and not unfrequently consulted, had revealed 
to her that a tinge of a still warmer hue than that 
of the declining day lingered on her own cheek. 
As she leant back upon her cushions, she threw off 
the veil, whose gossamer weight seemed too op- 
pressive for one evidently labouring under deep 
emotion. Once again she raised the little mirror, 
which was suspended to her girdle by a row of 
amber beads. A smile of complacency hovered on 
her lips. Every art that could be summoned to 
the aid of much natural beauty, had that day been 
put in requisition by the fair handmaids of Chezme. 
The countless braids of her long black hair nearly 
reached her feet ; on one side of her head she 
wore a small cap of crimson, flowered with gold 



MELAXTHE. 91 

and silver, from which hung, almost upon her 
shoulder, a splendid tassel of rubies and diamonds. 
A heron's plume was gracefully placed on the other 
side, and fastened by several bodkins of gold, the 
heads of which were composed of jewels of a magni- 
ficent size and lustre. Her drawers were of pale 
amber damask, flowered with silver ; the same 
material had been employed for the caftan, which 
fitted closely to her shape ; the sleeves of the caftan 
were clasped with sapphires. Her waistcoat was 
of violet satin, sewn with pearl; and the light white 
gauze chemise which, though drawn carefully over 
]ier bosom, perfectly revealed the smallest of the 
blue veins which now seemed to swell with uncon- 
trollable emotion, was buttoned with large emeralds 
and diamonds. Slippers of white satin with the 
most delicate gold embroidery, and a girdle enriched 
with jewels, completed the magnificent costume in 
which the fair Chezme hoped to accomplish the 
unhallowed wish of engaging the affections of a 
stranger and a Christian. 

Happily for her she was the Vizier s daughter — 
no other dared to have contemplated such a 
scheme; and even Chezme ever and anon cast a 



92 MELANTHE. 

glance of terror upon the blue wave of the Maritza, 
as she recollected that a dreadful death beneath its 
rolling waters might, notwithstanding her power, be 
even to her, in the event of discovery, the fearful 
alternative of success. The consciousness of autho- 
rity soon restored her self-possession ; and as she 
marked the slanting sunbeam which told of the de- 
clining day, a look of anger and scorn chased away 
the expression of anxiety her countenance had hi- 
therto worn. She rose from her seat, and stamping 
her foot upon the marble floor, hurried up and down 
the room, peeping out from every quarter through 
the flowery screens, and sometimes tearing away 
with a glance of fury, and dashing upon the floor 
the beautiful roses and jessamine which impeded 
her view. But all without was silent and solitary ; 
not a sound, save the sweet note of the birds, met 
the anxious ear of Chezme, who, at length frantic 
with impatience and vexation, which appeared every 
moment to increase, snatched up her silver veil, 
and hastily wrapping it round her, retraced the 
path which led to the palace, and entered her own 
apartments in the harem. 

An old female black slave, whose hideous 



MELANTHE. 93 

features attempted to soften themselves into an 
expression of interest as she looked upon the dis- 
turbed countenance of Chezme, addressed a few 
words to her as she passed the portals of the 
harem ; and following her to her room, busily 
employed herself in arranging the cushions upon 
which her young mistress threw herself with an air 
of fatigue. Upon a sign from her, the old woman 
clapped her hands, and there immediately entered 
from the lower end of the room, twenty of the 
most beautiful young girls it was possible to 
behold. They were all richly dressed, but with- 
out jewels, for they were slaves of the imperious 
Chezme, who now ordered them to dance and to 
sing for her amusement. 

The room in which they were assembled was 
paved with marble of various colours, and the walls 
glowed with the brightest flowers enamelled on 
china of Japan. The ceiling of wood was also 
richly painted and gilt, and two fountains threw 
up streams of perfumed water, which fell into 
marble basins at the lower end of the room. The 
upper end was raised by steps, upon which 
ran a divan, or sofa, the cushions of which were 



94 MELANTHE. 

of gold and silver brocade; but those which the 
officious black slave had placed beneath the head 
of Chezme were of white and blue satin with 
embroidery of gold and silk. A slave kneeling on 
either side fanned her gently with large flat fans 
of peacocks' feathers, perfumed with sandal wood 
and attar of roses. By degrees, the irritation 
which she had at first displayed, began to subside ; 
and the tender and languid movements of the 
dancers as they glided before her, accompanied by 
music of the softest description, gradually soothed 
her passion. The fire of her bright black eyes 
became subdued, their long lashes drooped upon 
her cheek, as, with her head thrown back and lips 
half parted, she reclined upon her cushions until, 
lulled by the perfumed atmosphere and sweeter 
sounds, a gentle state of repose stole over her 
wearied spirit. 

But Chezme was not asleep — bright visions of 
hope flitted before her half-closed eyes — a home 
in a distant land — a land of liberty and love, with 
one as graceful and young as him on whom her 
whole soul was fixed, was the waking dream of the 
Vizier's daughter, whose superior intelligence and 



MELAXTHE. 95 

aspiring soul loathed the confinement of the harem, 
and the prejudices to which she, although its 
queen, was a slave as abject as the meanest of those 
whose very lives depended on the breath of her 
own caprice. She did not sleep, though she 
dreamed — the happy dream of escaping from that 
fate to which she well knew the avarice and ambi- 
tion of her father destined her ; for the Vizier never 
neglected any opportunity of advancing his inte- 
rests, and his design with regard to his daughter 
had not escaped her penetration. 

As yet the Sultan had but one wife. He had 
married the daughter of an Emir (Solyman), a 
gentle, helpless girl, who trembled even beneath his 
smile. The haughty spirit of Chezme was fitted 
to rule a monarch, and the crafty Calil only 
waited for a favourable opportunity to endeavour 
to accomplish his scheme. Already the fame of 
the beauty of Chezme had reached the ear of the 
Sultan ; and an exaggerated statement of the few 
accomplishments she possessed, had distinguished 
her from the inmates of the harem, who were all 
contented to remain in the most barbaric ignorance ; 
so that the flatterers of the Grand Vizier did not 



96 MELANTHE. 

hesitate to pronounce the elevation of Chezme as 
certain, when Mahomet should have once beheld 
her. 

With a soul bursting with rage and bitterness, 
Chezme had listened to these prophecies, resolving, 
in her own mind, that they never should be ful- 
filled. Had she been chosen as the first and only wife 
of the Sultan, then, indeed, her warmest ambition 
had been gratified. To rule, and to rule alone, was 
her waking thought and her midnight dream ; but 
to be confounded amongst the soulless tenants of 
a harem — caressed at one moment, then cast aside 
as worthless the next — to pine and wither in her 
jewelled chains, was a prospect of such torture 
and degradation to the daughter of the Vizier, 
that sooner than have endured it, she would have 
cast herself into the deep wave of the Maritza. 

The nurse of Chezme had been a Christian ; 
and although reduced to slavery, she had appa- 
rently renounced her religion, it was but in out- 
ward form — ^lier heart still clung to the faith of 
her fathers ; and the young Chezme, left motherless 
while an infant, listened to the tales wherewith 
her childish hours were beguiled, until a new light 



MELAXTHE. 97 

seemed to break in upon her mind ; and as she 
grew, and the powers of a precocious intellect were 
strengthened, a strong distrust of the truth of the 
religion of her fathers filled her heart, until it 
yearned to throw off the trammels of the dark and 
narrow creed her own good sense taught her to 
spurn. 

In secret she had endeavoured to learn from her 
nurse the first rude elements of Christianity ; but 
her preceptress was an ignorant and uneducated 
woman. She taught the anxious Chezme the 
little that she herself knew, but upon all the 
points which most interested the inquiring mind of 
her nurseling, the poor woman was lamentably 
deficient ; and dying before Chezme had attained 
her fourteenth year, the mind of the unhappy girl 
remained in a perfect chaos of ideas upon all reli- 
gious subjects. Every feeling of her impetuous 
nature partook of this unsettled state of mind. In 
hope, in trust of a divine protector, in horror of 
the degradation to which all the women of her 
nation blindly submitted, Chezme was a Christian. 
This was chiefly because such trust suited with 
her own naturally noble and confiding sentiments. 

VOL. I. F 



MELANTHE. 



Her ideas of Christianity had not taught her the 
smallest meekness, forbearance, or charity ; and in 
hatred, revenge, in the unrestrained indulgence of 
luxury, and gratification of vanity, Chezme sur- 
passed even the most sensual of the burning clime 
to which she owed her birth. With these senti- 
ments, no idea of duty interfered to restrain the 
hope of escape from her present thraldom. Every 
plan which her fertile brain could devise, was 
discussed between her and her faithful slave 
Ayba, a young Albanian girl, who had been taken 
prisoner in the late war, and presented by the 
Vizier to his daughter. Ayba had come from the 
same land as the nurse of Chezme ; and the fond 
recollection which she cherished of one whom she 
had really loved, induced the haughty Chezme to 
relax from her usual pride, and admit, as a friend, 
the slave who had been given to serve her. They 
soon became inseparable ; and Chezme only waited 
for a favourable opportunity to confide to her 
faithful Ayba the thought which was ever present 
to her mind. In the meantime, she made a prac- 
tice of dispensing with her usual state, and so 
constantly quitted the harem attended only by her 



MELANTHE. 99 

Greek slave, that her doing so very soon ceased to 
attract the attention of her guards. 

The disguise in which the Turkish ladies are 
forced to appear when they leave their houses, was 
peculiarly favourable to the design of Chezme. 
Wrapped in the impenetrable ^ric?^ee and yash- 
mak, with her pretty slippers concealed by a 
pair of clumsy yellow boots, the daughter of the 
Vizier, accompanied by Ayba in a dress so exactly 
the same that it would have been impossible to 
have distinguished them, constantly loitered away 
the day in the bazaars and shops of the city. The 
Mahomedan laws, by which no man dares to stop 
a woman in the street, should he even be certain 
that the veiled figure is his wife or daughter, 
secured them from insult or intrusion ; and no 
obstacle presented itself to her instant evasion, but 
the selection of her new place of abode : still this, 
to an inexperienced girl, presented a serious diffi- 
culty ; and day after day, the ardent Chezme had 
returned to her gilded prison with a heart full of 
hope, though weighed down by present despon- 
dency. 

One day, as they were thus sauntering along the 



100 MELANTHE. 

street, their ears were suddenly assailed by the 
unusual clamour of voices issuing from the shop of 
a neighbouring Jew ; and drawing near, in order to 
ascertain the cause, they learned, to their astonish- 
ment, that the Christran Ambassador was about to 
make his entry into Adrianople. The curiosity 
of Turkish women is unbounded; and notwith- 
standing the grave remonstrances of Ayba on the 
danger, as well as impropriety of their encoun- 
tering the crowd, which already had begun to 
collect in the streets, Chezme was resolute in 
remaining where she was; and sheltering them- 
selves, as well as they could, behind a pile of goods 
which the Jew had collected in front of his dwel- 
ling, they awaited the arrival of Elphenor and his 
train. 

Although fully concurring in the Moslem doc- 
trine of fatalism, little did Chezme think that that 
moment was to be the eventful one by which her 
destiny was to be decided. The handsome youth, 
who rode by the chariot of the Ambassador, cast 
one look only upon the muffled figures which 
appeared as if trying to shrink out of sight, and 
Demetrius of Ypsara passed on, unconscious that 



f 



MELANTHE. 101 

that one look had sealed the fate of both, and 
bound up his own within it. 

Thoughtful and silent, Chezme returned to her 
palace, but from that hour one thought alone 
filled her breast. To seek out that youth, whose 
glance had filled her whole soul with love, and 
make his affections her own, was her instant deter- 
mination ; and not withheld by any motives of 
delicacy or shame, the accomplishment of the first 
part of her intention was easy. 

The great object of curiosity she well knew to all 
strangers were the bazaars ; and before Demetrius 
had been many hours in Adrianople, she had 
already spent moments in his society, which but 
too deeply confirmed the impression which his 
first appearance had created. Day after day were 
the same arts practised, until the times of their 
meeting were no longer left to chance ; and Deme- 
trius, forgetful of the danger, gave himself up to 
the pleasure with which these stolen hours inspired 
him. To the young Greek, there was a mystery 
attending the shrouded figures which ever hovered 
on his path, — which attracted him irresistibly 
towards them. One of them was evidently a 



102 MELANTHE. 

Greek ; still the foreign accent of the other, though 
she spoke the language perfectly, excited his 
utmost surprise. 

In spite of the closeness of their disguise, the 
women of the East have ever some manner of 
discovering to their admirers that they are neither 
old nor ugly, and Demetrius was not long in 
ascertaining this fact ; but any attempt at finding 
out their names, or place of residence, was impos- 
sible. The peremptory tone of Chezme, as she 
forbade him to follow her, instantly annihilated the 
presumptuous hopes which her words and manner, 
and constant appointment for the meeting of the 
next day, had raised in his bosom: — indeed, to 
follow any one of the muffled figures through the 
tortuous and crowded streets of a Turkish city, 
where hundreds of women, all disguised alike, are to 
be seen, would have been almost an impossibility. 

Several days had been consumed in this manner, 
and Chezme, whose whole thought was for herself, 
forgot that there might be more than one danger 
in the course she was pursuing. Accustomed to 
consider the presence of Ayba chiefly as a measure 
of convenience, her haughty mind never for an 



MELANTHE. 103 

instant contemplated the possibility of any inter- 
ference from her slave, and she had therefore 
unhesitatingly admitted her to all her meetings 
with Demetrius ; until Ayba, whose heart was 
equally susceptible with that of her mistress, 
resigned herself entirely to the delight with which 
the acquaintance of the young stranger had filled 
her. 

In her eyes, he had one perfection which could 
scarcely have had the same power of attraction in 
those of Chezme. He was Greek. None but the 
exile and the slave can fully comprehend the magic 
of the name of that country from which they have 
been torn. Surrounded by difficulties of which 
the affection of Chezme formed one of the principal, 
Ayba did not dare openly to question her fellow- 
countryman, or seek his sympathy for the misfor- 
tunes which had deprived her of liberty and home. 
Oh ! how she longed for an interview, even of a few 
moments, when she might pour out her sorrows to 
his ear. Once this thought had taken possession 
of her mind, she nursed it, until persuaded that no 
evil could arise from the gratification of her desire ; 
and that it was equally the desire of him upon 



104 MELANTHE. 

whom her every thought was now fixed. The 
moment for the execution of her project was not 
far distant. Once determined, she would not 
pause ; and as in the crowded street the watchful 
eye of Chezme was for a moment averted, Ayba 
contrived to whisper, as she glided to the side of 
Demetrius, " To-night at midnight, in the gardens 
of the cemetery by the bridge of the Maritza."*' 

And that night, and many succeeding ones, did 
they meet in the beautiful gardens by the river 
side. The waters murmured at their feet ; the tall 
cedars spread their branches thick and dark, like 
a canopy above, until the glimmer of the gentle 
stars scarcely pierced the leafy screen, though 
lighting up the rose beds that breathed on all 
around. Fragrant, and calm, and far too dear 
were those lovely midnight hours, and they who 
looked upon that starlit-sky were passionate and 
young. And yet their love was not the same. 
Poor Ayba! At first only actuated by the wish 
of seeing one with whom she could claim kindred, 
and of listening to the sweet accents of her native 
tongue, so doubly dear in the land of slavery, she 
had hurried on, till now she loved Demetrius with 



MELANTHE. 105 

a love as fervent, and as wild, as that which thrilled 
through the proud heart of the daughter of the 
Vizier. 

Ayba thought not of the future. The present 
was too full of joy. Faithful, however, to her 
mistress, though regardless of herself, she had 
resisted every entreaty of Demetrius to reveal the 
name of her whom she served ; and it was only 
when Chezme, having fully made up her mind to 
the consequences, had determined upon disclosing 
to the young Greek, not only her name and station, 
but also her intention of flying from her country, 
that Ayba was suddenly awakened to the painful 
and dangerous position in which she stood. Fond, 
passionate, and unhappy, the poor girl had never 
thought of herself ; and when the haughty Chezme, 
resuming her pride on imagining herself secure of 
the affections of Demetrius, determined no longer 
to seek him, — sent Ayba to reveal the secret of her 
state, and concert with him the means of visiting 
her in all her splendour, the wretched slave was so 
overwhelmed by the prospect of her misery, that 
she stood before Demetrius weeping bitterly, and 
was for a long time totally incapable of acquitting 
F o 



106 



MELANTHE. 



herself of her message, or returning to dispel the 
anxiety of her mistress. 

It was this delay which had produced in Chezme 
the fit of irritation and ill-humour, from which she 
had suffered so much during her anxious watch 
in the kiosk. It had been arranged that Ayba 
should seek her there on her return from her 
interview with Demetrius; but the tedious day 
had worn away, and still Ayba came not. Many 
an hour since had passed, and the fretful Chezme 
had wearied of the song and dance of her beauteous 
slaves, when, pale and wan, and with a trembling 
step, Ayba entered the apartment of her impatient 
mistress. Springing from the cushions upon which 
she still reposed, Chezme hastily clapped her hands 
and pointed to the door. The group of slaves 
bent low their lovely heads, and laying their 
hands upon their lips and foreheads, instantly dis- 
appeared ; and Ayba was left alone with her rival. 



CHAPTER IX. 

" Well, what has delayed your return ?" ex- 
clauTied the impatient Chezme ; " Will Demetrius 
come ? what said he ? Speak — speak," she continued 
wildly, without giving her hearer time to reply. 

" Lady," began the trembling Ayba ; but, on 
beholding the eagerness of Chezme's glance, a 
jealous pang shot through her heart, and she 
gasped for breath. 

" You are fatigued — you have had to seek him 
at a distance ; sit down, sit down, my good Ayba," 
said her mistress ; and, forgetting her usual state, 
she placed her slave on the cushion by her side. 

" It was long before I could meet with him ; he 
did not come to the bazaar, and I went to the 
square of the fountain," faltered Ayba, catching 
the idea of Chezme for an excuse. 

" But what said he ? — How did he look, when 
he heard it was the Vizier's daughter who loved 



108 MELANTHE. 

him ? ■" inquired Chezme, with an involuntary 
glance of pride. 

" He seemed surprised," replied Ayba, " and 
bade me remember the danger that awaited you as 
well as himself, should it even be suspected that 
he had visited you." 

" I am grateful for such care," replied Chezme, 
with a look of contempt ; " but what else did he 
say ?" 

" He asked if you were not beautiful as the 
day ; for that the fame of your charms had reached 
his ear in his own land." 

The brow of Chezme brightened as she listened 
to this well-timed flattery; and Ayba, who in 
truth had not delivered the message of her mistress, 
until Demetrius, weary of her society, was about 
to part from her, continued to pour into the willing 
ear of her listener a variety of compliments which 
had never been uttered by Demetrius, whose 
thoughts were too full of the exciting adventure 
he had met with to permit his usual freedom of 
speech. 

"And so, you could devise no better plan of 
bringing him here, than dressing him up like a 



MELANTHE. 109 

woman," exclaimed Chez me, pettishly, as Ayba 
detailed the scheme that she had planned with 
Demetrius, for introducing him into the forbidden 
precincts of the harem. 

" No other has a chance of remaining undis- 
covered,'' humbly suggested Ayba. " It is true, he 
might reach the bottom of the garden by the river, 
but the balustrade is so high above the water, that 
it would be impossible to climb over it without a 
ladder, and where are we to get that? Hussein, 
the Bostanji, always takes his away with him, 
when he has done nailing up the flowers against 
the kiosk ;" and Ayba, who doubtless had well 
considered every possible plan for admitting the 
stranger privately, before she had adopted the 
hazardous one of absenting herself from the harem 
at night, again urged the disguise of a female, as 
the most practicable device. 

" Well then, if he wishes it — and you advise, 
I suppose it must be so,'' slowly replied Chezme, 
whose soul revolted from the idea of her lover 
appearing for the first time in her presence, in 
a disguise so ill suited to his noble and somewhat 
martial bearing. 



110 MELANTHE. 

" But when will he come ? Did you not ap- 
point a time for our meeting?" asked Chezme. 

" He waits at the shop of the Jew Levi, near the 
corner of the bazaar,'' replied Ayba, with alacrity, 
her face beaming with delight at the thought of 
having once more to seek the presence of Demetrius. 

" Then go to him — be quick, Ayba — nay, loiter 
not as you have done before to-day, but bring him 
here ; and if the slaves who guard the door make 
any resistance, show them this ring, and say it is a 
holy woman, their lady would consult — a dealer in 
charms, that will protect me against the evil eye. 
Say what thou wilt, but bring Demetrius hither.'' 

Ayba pressed her hands to her forehead, then 
crossed them meekly upon her breast, and glided 
from the chamber; and Chezme, clapping her 
hands, commanded that the lamps of alabaster 
should be replenished with perfumed oil, and that 
she should be left alone. Once more the little 
mirror was consulted ; but Chezme saw at a 
glance, that the soft light of the lamps mar- 
vellously enhanced the beauty of which she was so 
proud, while her jewels sparkled still more brightly 
than in the glare of day. 



MELANTHE. HI 

In a much shorter time than she could have 
expected, the sound of approaching footsteps was 
heard ; and Ayba appeared, leading in a figure 
which in no wise differed from the many that daily 
traversed the city, save in height ; for the holy 
woman who knelt so lowly before the lovely 
queen of the harem was a full head taller than 
any who had ever before entered its walls. Chezme 
could scarcely refrain from smiling, when she saw 
the awkwardness with which Demetrius endea- 
voured to manage the tortuous folds of his yash- 
mak and feridgee ; but the moment was too 
eventful to her to be thrown away upon trifles; 
and desiring Ayba to keep watch at the lower end 
of the hall, she was left alone with her lover, and 
at length consented to withdraw her veil. 

The conversation of Chezme, even while her 
person was disguised, had surprised and fascinated 
the young Greek ; but now that it was permitted 
him to gaze upon her surpassing beauty, his senses 
were bewildered. He knew not which the most to 
admire, the beautiful lips, wreathed with a smile 
of affection, or the bright wit that flowed from 
them ; or the startling independence of spirit that. 



112 MKLANTHE. 

bred up in the thraldom of Turkish prejudices, 
could thus emancipate itself from them, and yet 
lose nothing of the queen-like dignity belonging to 
her state. 

The quick-witted Chezme was not slow to disco- 
ver, that, in the position which Demetrius occupied, 
any attempt at connecting him with her intended 
flight from the harem would entail inevitable ruin 
upon both. In a few hurried words, Demetrius 
had explained to her the object of the Greek 
ambassador's mission to Adrianople ; and Chezme 
shuddered to think, that, ere long perhaps, her own 
father might lead the troops that would carry war 
and devastation into the land of him she loved. 
Seated upon a cushion at the feet of Chezme, the 
young Greek had partly removed the disguise 
which sheltered him, and his ardent gaze fixed 
upon the glowing countenance of the Vizier's 
daughter, his whole heart was yielded up to the 
fascination of the moment, and his soul drank in deep 
draughts of love, such as never before had filled it. 

In the sunny climes where these two fair crea- 
tures had first seen the light, love is often the 
offspring of a moment. The secrecy which must 



MELANTHE. 113 

ever be observed in meeting; the difficulty, the 
danger, all conspire to invest every love affair with 
a romance that is fearfully exciting ; and the terri- 
ble punishment that awaits both parties, should 
any untoward discovery take place, is forgotten in 
the charm of those stolen moments which make a 
Paradise of earth. Nor does it unfrequently happen 
that an affection thus suddenly conceived, is more 
durable than such as have gradually arrived at 
maturity. 

The women of the East have so seldom an oppor- 
tunity of freely choosing for themselves, that, when 
such an event does occur, every thought and wish 
are centered in the object of their choice; and no 
longer irritated and galled by the compulsion which 
reigns in the harem, they continue to the end of 
their lives faithful and devoted to him they have 
first loved. Such a love as this, now filled the 
breast of the beautiful Chezme ; and as she hstened 
to the vows of Demetrius, she resolved that no risk 
should prevent her from joining her fate with his. 
Night was advancing ; the Muezzin's voice had 
long since called the last hour of prayer from the 
neighbouring minaret, ere Demetrius could tear 



114 MELANTHE. 

himself away. At length, however, having settled 
that the following evening they should meet again 
in the same manner, Chezme no longer seeking to 
control her laughter, assisted her lover to arrange 
the disguise, which, had it not been for his stature, 
would have effectually concealed him. 

It was not until he had reached the door of the 
apartment, that Demetrius recollected the presence 
of the unhappy Ayba ; but as the tearful eyes of 
the poor slave glistened in the light, as she ad- 
vanced to take his hand, in order to lead him 
through the passages towards the gate of the 
harem, the heart of Demetrius smote him, and he 
stood for a moment irresolute; but recovering 
himself, he quitted the presence of Chezm^ without 
speaking. Tears choked the utterance of Ayba, 
and she proceeded in silence, until arrived at the 
outer court of the harem, she paused beneath the 
shadow of the portico, and clasping the hand of 
Demetrius within her own, she pressed it passion- 
ately to her lips. 

" Ayba, forgive me," murmured Demetrius. 

" I do,*" sobbed the poor girl ; '' for when you 
said you loved Ayba, you had not seen Chezme." 



MELANTHE. 115 

Heart-struck by the sad humility of these words, 
Demetrius gently drew the trembling form of Ayba 
towards him, and imprinted a kiss upon her fore- 
head ; a kiss of pity — of remorse — of kindness — 
but not of love ; and the passionate nature of Ayba 
revolted from its coldness. A shudder past over 
her, as she exclaimed, — 

" I am but a poor slave, an orphan, and an 
outcast in the stranger's land. You will not be- 
tray me." 

" Never,"" replied Demetrius. " I would perish 
sooner than breathe your name, save with affection 
and respect." 

" Respect is not for Ayba, now," said the poor 
girl sadly, while her cheek burned with blushes, 
and affection ; " alas ! alas !" she exclaimed, wildly, 
as the words she had overheard, addressed by him 
she loved to another, recurred to her mind, and 
pressing her hands to her breast, her frame was 
convulsed with agony. 

A deep sigh broke from the bosom of Demetrius, 
and bitterly did he curse the weakness and want of 
principle which had led him to profess a depth of 
love his heart did not feel. 



116 MELANTHE. 

" Ayba/' he said softly, " Chezme loves you. I 
will pray to her, and she will restore you to liberty. 
Once again in your own land, you will be happy.*" 

" Never," replied Ayba, in a stifled voice, 
*' where you are not." 

" Do not say so," urged Demetrius. " Let me 
hope " 

" Hush !" exclaimed Ayba softly, laying her 
finger on his lips, as the approach of footsteps was 
heard, and the dusky form of a watchman was 
seen crossing the court with a lantern in his hand. 

With a noiseless tread, Ayba swiftly led the 
Greek along the inside of the portico. Had the 
watchman turned his head, they would infallibly 
have been discovered ; but, fortunately, he ima- 
gined he had already sufficiently examined the side 
of the court where they then stood ; and by follow- 
ing his steps cautiously, Ayba succeeded in reaching 
the outward gate, where the only sentinel that was 
awake happened to be the female negress, to whom 
Chezme had given her commands to admit the 
wise woman whose visit she expected. Willingly, 
therefore, she undid the fastenings of the door, and 
Demetrius once more found himself at liberty. 



CHAPTER X. 

At the appointed hour, on the following evening, 
Chezme once again took her way to her kiosk in 
the garden, having determined upon receiving 
Demetrius there, in preference to her apartments in 
the harem. Attended by the obedient yet suffering 
Ayba, Chezme had carefully arranged the interior 
of the summer-house, so as to present every object 
likely to please the eye and delight the senses of 
her visitor. The choicest perfumes burned in little 
golden lamps, placed in niches between the win- 
dows ; tables loaded with delicious fruits were 
placed within reach of the divan ; and the most 
refreshing liquids stood in vases of gold, enriched 
with precious stones. Sherbet, cooled with snow, 
conserve of roses served in golden spoons, the 
handles of which were set with diamonds, and every 
delicacy that was esteemed most rare by the fair 



118 MELANTHE. 

gourmandes of the harem, was now prepared with 
the greatest care. 

Nor did this preparation excite the least surprise 
among the slaves and guardians of Chezme. As 
was the case with all other females of her rank, 
within the walls of the harem, her will was abso- 
lute ; and except upon the one point of admitting 
male visitors, a breach of decorum and religious 
observance undreamed of in the daughter of the 
Vizier ; no fancy, however whimsical, troublesome, 
or expensive, excited either murmur or observation. 
An immense number of slaves, old and young, 
male and female, constantly waited upon the 
lightest wish of the fair Chezme ; yet, when the 
will of their mistress so ordained, this numerous 
retinue was instantly invisible. Not only did they 
conceal themselves from view, but their very 
breathing seemed suspended ; and every sound, 
save the murmur of the fountains, was hushed 
within the precincts of the harem. 

At other times, groupes of lovely girls might 
have been seen dancing together, or performing a 
variety of playful evolutions in illustration of 
some tale which one of them would repeat — a sort 



MELANTHE. 119 

of instinctive notion of comedy, generally ending 
in a lover's quarrel and reconciliation. The skill 
they displayed in some of these performances was 
far from being contemptible ; and it had become 
one of the chief enjoyments of the Turkish ladies 
to entertain their visitors by a display of this kind, 
during the formal visits the inmates of one harem 
constantly deemed it necessary to make to those of 
another. 

Often had Chezme, when wearied by such amuse- 
ments, which had little charm for her whose mind 
was capable of more intellectual enjoyments, com- 
manded that her evening repast should be prepared 
in the kiosk, and that all should retire except Ayba ; 
and there, alone with her favourite, who, though 
uneducated, could talk with her of other scenes, 
and a world which she longed to behold, Chezme 
would while away the hours of her captivity in 
dreams of future days, whose brightness should 
compensate for the loneliness of her present lot. 
Now it seemed as though fate had heard her prayers, 
and that her vision of bliss was about to be realized; 
for whilst Chezm6 gave herself up to the happiness 
of that idea, she forgot to think of the sin which 



120 MELANTHE. 

she was committing, or the danger to which the 
slightest accident might expose her. She forgot all 
but Demetrius, and the delight of seeing him again; 
and when, at length, she heard the sound of hurried 
steps beneath the covered walk of woodbine and 
cistus which wound along the confines of the 
garden, she could scarcely restrain herself so far as 
to retire hastily within the kiosk, and take her seat 
upon the divan. Joy as well as grief is selfish to 
an absorbing degree ; and Chezme, in the transport 
with which she half rose to receive her lover, 
marked not the look of anguish which tinged the 
pale cheek of her poor Ayba with a hue still more 
death-like than before, as she beheld Demetrius 
kneel before her mistress, pressing her jewelled 
fingers to his lips and heart, with a rapture that 
the unhappy slave well remembered had never 
marked his meetings with herself. 

" He never loved we," exclaimed Ayba, almost 
aloud ; and the first bitter thoughts which had ever 
entered her mind against a mistress she adored, 
swelled the breast of the wretched girl almost to 
bursting. She could scarcely control herself suffi- 
ciently to perform the duties of attendance which 



MELANTHE. Ij^l 

devolved upon her. It was a dreadful task ; and 
escaping from it as quickly as possible, Ayba sat 
down upon the steps of the kiosk, removed far 
enough not to overhear words which pierced her 
heart with anguish. Bowed down with grief, 
leaning her pale face upon her arms, she wept 
those bitter tears, "vvhich sooner or later ever flow 
when the path of virtue and rectitude has been 
forsaken ! and rendered doubly desolate by her 
own fault, the unhappy girl listened to the mur- 
mur of the waves as they rolled past, and sighed 
for that repose she madly resolved one day to seek 
beneath their bosom ! 

Suddenly she raised her head — another sound 
seemed mingling with the voice of the waters; — it 
ceased — but no ! — again it returnsj and the af- 
frighted Ayba springs to her feet. It is the sound 
of voices— loud and angry voices. Ayba steals to 
a thicket of magnolias and oleanders, which shelters 
the kiosk from view of the harem. Distraction ! 
Lights are gleaming from every window — slaves 
are running to and fro affrighted ; and the grim 
Ethiops of the Vizier's guard already line the court. 

With the speed of light, Ayba regains the kiosk. 

VOL I G 



122 MELANTHE. 

" The Vizier ! — the Vizier !'' was all she could 
utter ; and overpowered by the idea of the certain 
fate of Demetrius, should he be discovered, she 
sank senseless upon the floor. 

Not so, Chezme. Though pale as the marble 
beneath her feet, her presence of mind did not 
forsake her. Behind the divan where she sat, was 
a recess, concealed from view by a sliding panel 
in the wall. It had been originally intended as a 
place of safety for the rich cushions and other 
articles too cumbrous to be removed every night 
within the harem ; and communicated by steps 
with the ceiling of the kiosk, so that in fact it led 
to a low, though spacious apartment. Without an 
instant's hesitation, Chezme undid the fastening, and 
pushing Demetrius within, hastily closed it again, 
and replacing the divan and cushions before it, she 
had, in a few moments, regained her composure 
sufiiciently to encounter the eye of her father. 

Well did she know that, in the event of any sus- 
picion, the hiding place of Demetrius would not 
avail him for an instant ; but trusting to her 
woman''s wit, she strove to calm the throbbings of 
her heart ; and on the entrance of the Vizier, she 



MELANTHE. 123 

rose in her accustomed manner, and kneeling on 
one knee before him, received his salutation upon 
her forehead. The countenance of Calil Pacha was 
livid with rage ; his eyes seemed to squint into 
every corner of the apartment ; and yet such was 
his trepidation, that he totally overlooked the 
crouching form of Ayba, who, having somewhat 
recovered, was kneeling in mute terror behind one 
of the pillars. 

'' Where is the accursed slave, by whom my 
harem is defiled .?" asked he in a voice of thunder. 

*' AVhat mean these words ?" inquired Chezme, 
in a well assumed tone of offended dignity. 

" Bring forth the slave, I say ; and let me wreak 
my vengeance on the spot, or, by the beard of the 
Prophet, I will slay every one within the harem 
walls," vociferated the enraged Vizier. 

" My father's words are those of anger — his 
daughter listens but to obey," said Chezme calmly. 

"I will have vengeance — but why do I talk to 
a woman ? the fault is mine, and my hand shall 
wash it away in blood. Oh ! that ever I listened 
to thy prayer, and gave thee an accursed Christian 
for a slave." 



124 MEL ANTHE. 

The heart of Chezme seemed to die within her at 
these words. 

" If any in my service have oif ended the Vizier, 
he has only to speak,"" observed his daughter. 

" Offended me ! — disgraced— defiled — spit upon 
my very beard," roared the Vizier ; " and it is thy 
favourite, thy Greek slave Ayba, who has brought 
this pollution upon our . house. The Sultan will 
hear of it — then woe is me ! He will say, the mis- 
tress is no better than the slave," continued Calil, 
whose chief cause of rage upon the occasion was 
the fear of its injuring his prospects with regard to 
his daughter's promotion. 

" Ayba — impossible," exclaimed Chezm^, some- 
what relieved at finding the danger transferred from 
herself. 

" It is true — woe is me — it is too true," replied 
the Vizier; "every night until the last, has she 
been seen to hold converse with one of the accursed 
Christians sent by Allah to disturb the peace of 
our city. This moment I have been informed of 
it by an eye witness ; call forth the slave, and 
question her, if thou wilt, before I deal with her 
as she deserves," said Calil, while his hand grasped 
the handle of his scimitar. 



MELANTHE. 1S5 

*' Not SO, my father," firmly replied Chezme, who 
had her own reasons for not wishing that any 
examination of the timid Ayba should take place. 
" My slaves are my own, to deal with as I 
think fit." 

" Thou art no fitting judge of a crime so 
heinous," replied the Vizier, in an uncertain voice, 
his contempt for the sex of his daughter mingling 
with his habitual awe of the determination of her 
character. 

" Most fitting," said Chezme, sternly; " when 
my father placed me at the head of his harem, my 
duties were made known to me — say, have I turned 
from them ?" 

" Nay, thou art a pearl of discretion, as well as 
a rose of beauty, fit only for the bride of a sultan," 
replied the Vizier, who always ended in flattering 
his daughter, whenever she showed symptoms of 
rebellion. A smile of scorn curled the beautiful 
lip of Chezme as she replied : 

" 'Tis well — wherefore seek, then, to disturb my 
dominion ? If I want aid, I will ask it ; but if 
my father loves his daughter, he will not seek to 
make the slaves of her harem subjects of ill report, 



126 MELANTHE. 

but rather conceal from every ear the shame that 
has fallen upon her. Withdraw your guards, and 
command that all instantly retire within the 
sleeping apartments. 

" I will question Ayba — if she is guilty, shall 
Chezme stoop to screen her? Rather will I, 
myself, inflict the punishment she would so justly 
deserve." 

So spoke the proud Chezme, in the full con- 
viction of the innocence of her favourite; and 
restored to confidence by the turn the aiFair had 
taken, she received with calmness the farewell of 
her father, and making a sign to the trembling 
Ayba to remain concealed from his view, she 
herself conducted the Vizier to the door of the 
kiosk, and soon had the happiness of hearing him 
depart, immediately after which, a deep silence 
reigned in the garden. Returning to the kiosk, 
the daughter of the Vizier went straight to the 
panel which concealed Demetrius; and opening it, 
took from him the disguise which he wore, then 
leading him through the deepest of the shaded 
walks which skirted the garden, she did not pause 
until they stood upon the brink of the river. 



MELANTHE. 127 

" Demetrius,'"* she said, in a low voice, " you 
are saved ; but the danger of this night has taught 
me prudence — we must not meet again;— at least 
not here,"" she added, seeing that he was about to 
contradict her words. 

'•' Not meet again," exclaimed Demetrius, " I 
would sooner die a thousand deaths than give up 
an instant of your society, my beauteous, my 

beloved Chezme "^ 

Chezme cast her eyes to heaven with a look of 
rapture, and after a moment's pause, replied — " One 
day we shall meet again — I feel it — I am assured of 
it ; for a secret warning has told me, from the first, 
that my fate is linked with your's. Nay,'' she 
continued, looking fearfully around, " I know it, 
for the stars have predicted it ; the very day after 
my eyes first beheld you, I hastened to consult 
the great Almanzor, whose prophecies have never 
been known to fail." 

" And what did he foretel, as the fate of the 

beautiful Chezme ?" asked Demetrius, with a smile, 

at the earnestness of belief which one so gifted 

could yet place in the words of an astrologer. 

" Nay, my name was a secret to him ; but he 



128 MELANTHE. 

told me my fate would be different from that of 
other women; for that tlie star of ray nativity was 
linked with one placed far away in the heavens. 
Demetrius — thou art that star — and we shall meet 
again." 

Again ! again ! oh, oft again, and to part no 
more," exclaimed Demetrius, half induced, by the 
serious eyes which beamed upon him, to indulge in 
a superstition so prevalent in that age that few 
persons in the East were totally free from it. 

" It is that certainty," said Chezme, " that will 
support me ; now promise that till that hour comes, 
no vow of love to another shall ever pass thy lips." 

" I do— I swear it, by all that we both hold 
most sacred — by the heaven that is above us — 
by 

" Enough," said Chezme, hurriedly ; for the 
thought of all that might intervene before she 
again beheld him she loved, was becoming too 
painful for endurance. 

" Enough — I believe — and I trust you. Wear 
this," she continued, drawing a ruby ring from her 
finger, and placing it on the hand of Demetrius; 
*' Chezme will one day redeem her ring." She 



p 



MELAJJTHE. 129 

turned, and pointing to the river, whispered, " No 
other way is left for escape : — a few moments will 
bear you across the waves. Do not seek me again 
until you hear from me. Demetrius, farewell!" 
and Chezme bent her head for the first time on 
the bosom of her lover. 

Demetrius, as he pressed her frantically to his 
heart, did not see the tears that were rapidly 
falling down her cheeks. Another moment, and a 
heavy plunge struck upon the ear of Chezme, who 
watched until she saw him she loved, safely ascend 
the flowery bank of the garden on the opposite side 
of the river ; and then, with a secret thanksgiving 
to Heaven for having escaped the dangers of the 
night, Chezme returned to the harem. 



6 5 



CHAPTER XI. 

Engrossed by her own situation, which cer- 
tainly presented no small difficulties to her excited 
view, Chezme had been some time in her apart- 
ment unconscious of the presence of Ayba, who 
remained at the lower end of the room, mute and 
pale like a statue of despair ; her hands clasped 
before her, and her straining eyes fixed upon the 
face of her mistress. At every movement of 
Chezme, the wretched slave seemed as if expecting 
that her doom was about to be pronounced ; for 
she doubted not, even if Demetrius had been true 
to his promise, that, during his absence from the 
kiosk, Chezme had still contrived to elicit sufficient 
of the truth to justify the condemnation of her 
guilty slave. What moments of anguish might 
have been spared to Ayba, could she have guessed 
that not even a suspicion of her fault lurked in the 
bosom of Chezme. To one more skilled in the ways 



MELAXTHE. 131 

of the world and its dissimulation, the idea might 
have suggested itself, that at all events it would be 
better to wait until she should be questioned, and 
frame her avowal according to what she found was 
the extent of the information possessed by her 
interrogator. 

Ayba was the untutored child of nature. She 
had committed a sin, that, in her country and in 
the class of life to which she belonged, was not 
considered so heinous as in that land in which she 
was now a slave. She had given her heart unasked 
and unsought for, and had eagerly received a few 
common-place expressions of gallantry as a genuine 
return of her own true and passionate affection. 
Too soon had she learned that this was the case ; 
and that the love of Demetrius was not as her love 
for him ; and the bitterness of that discovery had 
at first overwhelmed all other faculties ; but now, 
to her former griefs, the shame of exposure was 
added, and the little fortitude with which she had 
been gifted by nature, gave way before such an 
accumulation of distress. 

With intense anxiety Ayba had watched from a 
distance the escape of Demetrius, and the return of 



13S MELANTHE. 

Chezme to the harem ; and following silently, she 
had expected every instant to be called before her 
judge; but the abstraction of Chezme had deferred 
the moment, when, by a full confession of both her 
faults and her sorrow, Ayba hoped to have softened 
the heart of her mistress. 

When the mind is intensely wrought up to the 
performance of any deed which it considers indis- 
pensable, delay is intolerable torture. The unhappy 
Ayba, during the time she stood as if awaiting the 
moment of confession, was a prey to this feeling in 
its most aggravated form. The tension of every 
nerve and sense became too strong for endurance, 
till at last it burst from her bosom in such a groan 
of anguish that Chezme started, and, for the first 
time aware of her presence, called Ayba to her. 

" Lady — mistress — oh, forgive me — forgive the 
wretched, guilty Ayba !" exclaimed the poor girl, 
as she rushed towards Chezme, embracing her feet, 
and prostrating herself till her forehead rested 
upon the marble floor. 

" How?" said Chezme, her look filled with hor- 
ror. " Guilty ! oh ! not guilty, my poor Ayba — 
all who are accused are not guilty ;" and she 



MELANTHE. 133 

stooped, and kindly endeavoured to raise the sob- 
bing girl from the floor. 

'* It was all true — all that his Highness ihe 
Vizier said was true — all— and more than that,*' 
exclaimed Ayba, wildly tossing her arms above her 
head, as she knelt before her mistress. 

" Nay — calm thyself, dear Ayba, I will not 
believe it: — thou canst not be so lost,*^ said 
Chezme, in a tone of agony. 

" Yes — yes — it is true. I did meet him every 
night in the gardens by the new bridge over the 
Maritza. Oh God ! those nights of happiness !'' 
she exclaimed almost with a shriek, as she lifted a 
look of impassioned tenderness towards heaven. 
" But now," she continued, as an expression of deep 
distress replaced it, " I would not have them come 
again — oh no — I could not, even if I might " 

" Do not speak so wildly,'' said Chezme ; " but 
tell me how this happened, and how you could 
run so deadly a risk for one whom it would seem 
you cannot have known long " 

" You ask me how it happened," replied Ayba 
quickly; " Lady, ask thyself how it is that the 
first glance of the beloved one sinks into the heart 



134 mela:nthe. 

— how it is that the mind dwells upon that glance, 
till the soul sees it in all around — the air, the earth, 
the flowers — all beam with it ; and then, when after 
days bring sighs and honied words, and half- 
breathed syllables, and the light trembling touch 
that sends the blood quick from the heart till every 
pulse is maddened into fire — Lady, how is it then, 
that all the world seems naught ? — all blank — all 
desolate, but the one spot shadowed by the form 
we love — love, oh far too well to think of self? 
How is it then, that we forget all, but the one who 
taught us thus to feel ? Lady, my words are bold 
— but ask me no more from whence has sprung 
my sin and my disgrace. Thyself hast loved, and 
so thy question were best answered by thy heart." 

Tears filled the eyes of Chezme' as she listened 
to the words of her poor slave, while her own 
heart bore witness to their truth. The fact of the 
guilt of Ayba was now too evident for her mistress 
to indulge in any hope of concealing the matter 
from the knowledge of the Grand Vizier. The 
very nature of Ayba forbade such a hope, and 
only one course remained for Chezme. 

" Ayba,"" she said, as she drew her gently towards 



MELANTHE. 135 

her, " I fear thy sin has been great ; yet it is not 
for one who is herself so guilty to heap reproaches 
on thy head. Thou knowest that in this country 
the punishment is dreadful; even if sentence of 
death should not be pronounced, public exposure, 
with hard labour for life, is the most lenient that is 
ever accorded.'' 

" Alas ! alas ! death were far better,'' sobbed 
poor Ayba. 

" There yet remains one way of escape," said 
Chezme. " If I give thee thy liberty, no one will 
inquire into the deeds of a free woman and a 
foreigner; thus thou mayest regain thine own 
country, or, at least, seek some other, where thou 
mayest be happy." 

" Lady — mistress — angel — oh ! how can the 
wretched Ayba thank thee for such words," cried 
Ayba, embracing the knees and feet of her 
mistress. 

" The certainty of thy happiness and safety will 
be my best reward ; and I shall need some, Ayba, 
for I shall miss thy kindness,*" said Chezme, mourn- 
fully. " But tell me," she continued, " who is he 
for whom thou hast sacrificed so much ?" 



136 MELANTHE. 

Ayba hung her head, and, covering her face 
with her hands, did not reply. 

" Why dost thou hesitate ? " asked her mistress. 
" Once free, thou must seek him out ; if his heart 
is noble, he will remember all thou hast done for 
him, and Ayba may yet be a happy wife." 

" Never ! oh, never !" murmured Ayba. 

" Nay, then I fear it is a love thou art ashamed 
to avow — some low-born slave— some "" 

" No, Lady — no slave!"" cried Ayba, almost 
fiercely, " but noblest among the noble ! " 

" Then name him," said Chezme, whose curiosity 
was strongly aroused by the hesitation of her 
slave. *' I have much power — if he is as thou 
sayest, fear not ; he shall do thee justice — speak." 

The trepidation of Ayba returned. 

" Ayba, I will be answered. Speak — I insist 
upon it — who is the man whom you love?" said 
Chezme, in a tone of authority. 

" Lady, dost thou indeed command that I 
should speak .^" asked Ayba, humbly, being totally 
unused to dispute the orders she received. 

" I do," replied Chezme, haughtily, " who is 
it ? " 



MELANTHE. 137 

" Demetrius of Ypsara,"" whispered the trem- 
bhng Ayba, but in so low a tone, that it scarce 
could reach the attentive ear of Chezme. 

*' Demetrius I" she exclaimed, starting to her 
feet, while her eyes flashed fire, as if they would 
have struck the trembling form of Ayba with in- 
stant death. 

" Demetrius ! — 'tis false — thou darest not say 
it." 

*' It is true,'' said Ayba, meekly folding her 
hands upon her breast, " Ayba cannot lie to her 
mistress. It is Demetrius whom I have loved — 
and for whom," she added in a lower tone, '• I 
have sinned." 

" Slave — minion ! " cried Chezme, furiously, 
" how didst thou dare to lift thine eyes to one 
so much above thee, or imagine, in thy foolish 
heart, that he could stoop to such a thing as 
thou?" 

" Lady," said Ayba, proudly, for she was 
stung to the heart by the contemptuous tone of 
her mistress, " I have said before, thine own heart, 
which now beats with love, can best reply to thy 
questions. Do with me as thou wilt — but, oh ! 



138 MELANTHE. 

when I am dead, let my name be forgotten ! 
do not speak it with scorn to — him — to Deme- 
trius." 

" Name him not to me," exclaimed Chezme, 
" or I will strike thee dead upon the spot, thou 
vile, abandoned creature, that seekest to hide the 
shame, that doubtless thou hast long since known, 
beneath the shelter of his noble name." A cry of 
agony burst from the lips of Ayba, at this cruel 
accusation— and she cast herself at the feet of the 
infuriated Chezme, sobbing so bitterly, her heart 
seemed almost bursting from her bosom. 

" Say any thing but that — torture me, slay me, 
only do not say it was not love that tempted me 
to sin ; do not seek to blacken me yet more than 
I deserve, nor make him revile the memory of the 
wretched Ayba — him — oh, my God — for whose 
least look of love I would have given my life — my 
very soul ! " 

Driven to desperation by these words, the im- 
piety of which touched her less than the burning 
love, it was apparent another had felt for him, whom 
she herself had chosen, — Chezme, whose Eastern 
temperament had entirely overcome her usual good 



MELANTHE. 139 

sense and dignity, seized the unhappy Ayba by her 
long hair, and drawing forth a poniard she always 
carried beneath her vest, was about to plunge it 
into the bosom of the trembling girl, when some 
sudden thought seemed to change her intention, 
for she remained motionless, with her hand up- 
lifted. It was a terrible exemplification of the 
horror of unbridled passions, to behold these two 
women, formerly the delight of each other's ex- 
istence, in the awful position in which they thus 
stood ! 

Chezme, whose every movement when at rest 
was stately and queenlike, now glared upon her 
victim with the rage of a demon. The splendour 
of her dress contrasted fearfully with the contracted 
brow and compressed lips, which showed that there 
was intense suffering within ; and the marble pale- 
ness of that cheek, which a few moments before 
had glowed with the damask hue of the rose, made 
the fierce flashings of her large black eyes still more 
wild and fearful. Writhing under the accumu- 
lated torture of rage, wounded self-love, and 
jealousy so deadly, that it amounted almost to 
madness, Chezme, as she seized the unhappy Ayba, 



140 MELANTHE. 

forgot their long friendship, and the helpless con- 
dition of her poor slave. Revenge was the only 
thought that could bring solace to her infuriated 
breast; and when she stood above her victim, who, 
still kneeling upon the floor, uttered but one feeble 
cry, as she bent her head backwards to receive the 
fatal blow upon her bosom, the thought that 
arrested the hand of Chezme was not of pity or 
remorse! — it was the cold calculation of the fiendish 
spirit which at that moment possessed her, that, by 
inflicting instant punishment, she should lose the 
revenge of gloating upon the agony of her rival — 
which made her, as she gazed upon the haggard 
features of the poor wretch who had attempted to 
supplant her in the affections of Demetrius, gradu- 
ally relax her hold ; and the sound of the poniard, 
as it rung upon the marble of the floor, told Ayba 
that, for a time, her life was spared. 

" Follow me,'' said Chezme, in a harsh and 
hollow tone ; and without uttering another word, 
she led the way to an upper chamber, large, 
gloomy, and totally unfurnished. The rays of the 
lamp which she carried in her hand could not pene- 
trate the darkness of this dismal apartment, as. 



MELANTHE. 141 

standing at the door, she motioned to Ayba to 
enter. TrembHng with apprehension, the poor 
girl obeyed ; but when she saw her mistress pre- 
paring to lock the door of the room, she threw her- 
self suddenly at her feet, and implored her to have 
mercy, and not to leave her to darkness and 
solitude. 

" Kill me at once ; but do not leave me here ! 
my heart is broken ! I cannot bear to be alone,"" 
cried the wretched slave, bursting into a fresh 
agony of tears. 

"It is dark,"" said Chezme, with a scowl of 
hatred that would have done honour to a demon ; 
" but not more dark than the cypress grove by the 
banks of the Maritza ;"" and with a violent effort 
she disengaged the folds of her dress from the 
grasp of Ayba, and, closing the door, in a moment 
afterwards the grating of the key upon the lock 
told the prisoner her doom. One wild scream of 
agony reached the ear of Chezme, who, appalled by 
the torture of mind it revealed, half withdrew the 
key from her girdle, where she had placed it ; but 
the cry was not repeated ; and grinding her teeth 
as she murmured the name of Demetrius, Chezme 
retired to her own apartment. 



142 MELANTHE. 

That night, no slave was summoned to attend 
their mistress, for during the long hours of darkness 
Chezme continued to pace the room incessantly, 
her mind a prey to the most fierce emotion. At 
length, worn out by her own impetuosity, she 
sank upon a sofa, and the first fury of her passion 
having abated, the better feelings of her nature 
began to regain the ascendant; and a sentiment 
of pity for her unhappy slave crept into the bosom 
which had lately been filled only with hatred, and 
the desire of revenge. The acuteness of her per- 
ception enabled Chezme to see at a glance all that 
had happened ; and though a feeling of contempt 
for Demetrius certainly arose within her heart, yet 
her self-love was gratified by the reflection that 
from the moment he had been permitted to behold 
her, and to become assured of her affection, he had 
not thought again of Ayba. 

This balm to her wounded vanity, somewhat 
appeased the wrath of Chezme ; and as her feelings 
regained their accustomed tone, the generous spirit, 
which was strangely blended with her imperious 
and vindictive nature, returned; and she felt 
ashamed of having visited so severely upon another 
a sin which differed but in degree, and not in prin- 



MELANTHE. 143 

ciple, from her own. To atone by kindness for the 
cruelty she had shown to Ayba, was her instant 
determination ; but to devise some immediate plan 
for the future, was also an imperative obligation. 
If she hesitated, even for a day, the law might take 
its course, and her friend and favourite would be 
beyond her power. To make her the partner of 
her flight, after the disclosure of that night, she 
felt to be impossible ; and having weighed the 
matter in every different form, she came to the 
conclusion that her original plan, of conferring 
liberty upon her slave, was in every respect the 
best. Satisfied with this determination, Chezme, 
worn out with fatigue, at length threw herself 
upon her cushions, resolving, that her first act, 
on the following morning, should be to restore 
tranquillity to the tortured bosom of Ayba. 



CHAPTER XII. 

It was late on the following day when Chezme 
awoke from the heavy sleep into which the events 
of the foregoing had plunged her. At first, her 
ideas were confused, but she was soon able to 
recollect distinctly all that had occurred ; and 
starting from her couch, she hastened to undo 
the fastenings of the door, resolved not to lose 
a moment in seeking the presence of Ayba, and 
announcing to her the joyful tidings of pardon 
and of freedom. The heart of Chezme bounded 
as she thought of the rapture which in another 
moment would fill the bosom of Ayba. Already 
she felt the tears and kisses with which she knew 
her grateful slave would welcome the first kind 
look from her mistress ; and full of delight at 
the idea of the joy she was about to confer, 
Chezme drew the key from her girdle, and hastily 
traversing the apartments which separated her 
from that in which Ayba was confined, had already 
begun to ascend the stairs which would lead her 



MELANTHE. 145 

to the presence of her prisoner, when a sound 
suddenly struck upon her ear, and caused her 
to pause. 

It was a sound so unusual within the harem, 
that the cheek of Chezme blanched as it reached 
her. It was a sound of lamentation and weeping, 
and of many voices; and as Chezme descended 
the staircase, and advanced towards the court 
from Avhence it issued, she fancied she heard 
her own name pronounced more than once. 
Alarmed, though she knew not wherefore, she 
now pressed forward. It seemed as if every slave 
within the harem had collected in the court ; and 
as the crowd opened on the appearance of Chezme, 
a cry of horror, so frantic that beneath it every 
other sound was hushed, burst from her lips. 

Upon the ground before her lay the lifeless 
body of the unfortunate Ayba ! A frightful 
wound upon one side of her head, showed too 
plainly the manner of her death ; and for the 
first time Chezme remembered that the room in 
which she had been confined, communicated with 
the roof of the palace. The unhappy girl, as 
the hours wore on, and brought no prospect of 

VOL. I. H 



146 



MELANTHE. 



release had been unable to bear the torture of 
her own thoughts; and rendered frantic by the 
solitude &he endured, had precipitated herself into 
the court below, and found upon its marble 
bosom, the death for which her misery had taught 
lier to sigh. 

" It is I who have murdered her," cried the 
wretched Chezme, as she threw herself on her 
knees by the body, and, regardless of the gazing 
throng, that shrunk back affrighted at her grief, 
she pressed her face upon the yet quivering lips 
of her poor slave, and raising the head upon her 
bosom, kissed away the tears which were still wet 
upon the cheek of Ayba. 

But vain was all her tenderness ; and useless 
now were the words she addressed to her whom she 
had so cruelly treated. Forgiveness came too late ; 
and the crushed and wounded spirit had fled, 
before the balm of returnin*]: kindness could shed 
its sweetness o'er it. The eyes that would have 
beamed with gladness were closed — and for ever ! 
— In vain her mistress called upon her to awaken ! 
— in vain she prayed for one last look — one sign 
that she forgave her ! — though gladly would the 



MELANTHE. 147 

haughty Chezme have exchanged places with her 
slave the moment after she had pronounced her 
pardon. Ayba never spoke again. The small head 
of the poor Greek girl grew heavy on the sinking 
bosom of Chezme — the graceful limbs began to 
stiffen, and the blood which at first had welled 
in a boiling stream from the wound, now slowly 
fell in thickening drops upon the gorgeous dress 
in which Chezme had remained since the previous 
day. Colder and colder grew the form which was 
yet fondly clasped to the breast of one, who, with 
all her evil passions, still could feel more warmth 
of attachment than many more enlightened could 
boast; and it was not till a certainty so dread 
that none can withstand its power, forced itself on 
the mind of Chezme, that she would yield up the 
treasure that she held. Once more she looked upon 
the face of her she had so loved in life — once more 
she tried to pronounce her name — the effort was 
beyond her strength ; her senses abandoned her ; 
she sunk upon the body, and alike unconscious of 
their last embrace, the living and the dead lay 
side by side ! 



CHAPTER XIII. 

While these events were passing within the 
walls of the harem, another, of more trifling ap- 
pearance, yet closely connected with the fate of an 
entire nation, had occurred in the city of Adrianople. 
The messenger dispatched to Constantinople had 
returned, and delivered to Elphenor the answer of 
his sovereign, to the extraordinary request of the 
Sultan. Foreseeing the danger which would arise 
from the unsuspicious nature of Constantine, El- 
phenor had not failed, in his capacity of counsellor, 
to set before the Emperor the manifold disadvan- 
tages, as well as perils, of allowing even the 
smallest portion of territory so immediately in the 
vicinity of the seat of his empire, to be occupied 
by an enemy ; for thus, in spite of all the flattery 
and fair promises heaped upon him, Elphenor 
unhesitatingly represented Mahomet to his own 
sovereign. Fruitless, however, was the precaution 



MELANTHE. 149 

of Elphenor, and all seemed to conspire to hurry 
on that fate, which perhaps, by timely caution, 
might have been averted. 

It had been the earnest prayer of Elphenor, 
that he might be permitted to be the bearer of the 
request of the Sultan to Constantine; but Maho- 
met, who foresaw too well the result that would 
probably arise from the presence of Elphenor at 
Constantinople, refused his consent to such en- 
treaty ; and though he hated, even while forced to 
respect the upright, unbending nature of the Greek 
Ambassador, he pretended to have conceived a 
violent friendship for him, constantly detaining 
him near his person, and trying to beguile the 
time by shows and spectacles of a superb nature, 
in which the wealth and power of his kingdom 
were ostentatiously displayed to the eyes of Elphe- 
nor and his train. In this manner, many valuable 
days were lost, ere the messengers of the Sultan, 
who were to accompany those of the Ambassador, 
were pronounced ready for the journey. Arrived 
at Constantinople, and acting, no doubt, from 
instructions received before-hand, a considerable 
delay took place before they set out upon their 



150 



MELANTHE. 



return, thus extending to several weeks an affair 
which might have been disposed of in a fourth of 
the time. 

Harassed beyond endurance by a duplicity he 
could not counteract, Elphenor hailed the return 
of his messenger with a joy that was ill concealed 
from the searching eye of Mahomet; but this 
moment of delight was soon forgotten in the dis- 
may with which the Ambassador received the 
orders of his sovereign. Not only did Constantine 
comply with the demand of the Sultan, but with 
a noble generosity, which spoke more for the 
kindly feelings of his heart, than for the sound- 
ness of his judgment as a statesman, he desired 
his enemy to select the spot most suited to his 
taste upon the shores of the Bosphorus, and 
promised that it should be his own for ever. 
In return, he asked that an annual stipend, which 
had been granted to the Greeks for the main- 
tenance of an Ottoman prince, who resided amongst 
them, should be henceforth punctually paid ; and 
concluded by renewing the assurances he had 
already made, through his Ambassador, of friend- 
ship and good-will towards the Ottoman empire. 



MELANTHE. ] 51 

The heart of Mahomet bounded with joy, as 
he perceived how completely his enemy had fallen 
into the trap he had laid for him, and he now 
willingly consented to permit the departure of 
Elphenor, to whom he sent presents of the most 
magnificent description ; appointing, at the same 
time, an hour on the following day for an audience, 
when the Ambassador was to take leave. 

With a brow clouded with sorrow, Elphenor 
stood in his chamber, calmly watching the dex- 
terity of the black slaves, as they entered his room 
one after another, and piled up the rich gifts 
of the Sultan, until the floor was covered with 
them. To have refused them openly would have 
been an offence not easily forgiven by an Ottoman 
Emperor ; and Elphenor felt that he had no right 
to provoke so powerful an enemy ; but to accept 
of the smallest trifle was a degradation to which he 
resolved not to submit ; and he, therefore, as soon 
as they were collected, desired that the Vizier 
might be informed that he wished to speak with him . 

From the moment of the arrival of Elphenor at 
Adrianople, Calil Pacha had never enjoyed a quiet 
hour. Uncertain whether his former treacherous 



15i2 MELANTHE. 

communications with the Romans were known to 
Elphenor or not, he had not dared to commit 
himself with one, the austerity of whose manners 
gave him little encouragement. Hitherto, the 
Ambassador had shown no further indications of 
friendship towards the Vizier, than the formal 
courtesy their relative situations imposed ; but 
when Calil received a friendly message from El- 
phenor, praying that he would dispense with state, 
and come to his residence unattended, the hopes of 
the greedy Vizier began to rise. What was his 
delight, when, on entering the apartment of the 
Ambassador, he beheld the goodly collection of 
reasures with which the floor was heaped. His 
eyes rolled rapidly from one side to the other ; 
and such was the avarice of his soul, that, had it 
been possible, he would willingly have possessed 
himself by theft of any one of the tempting 
objects before him. The stern eye of Elphenor 
seemed to read him to the heart ; and affecting an 
admiration which he was far from feeling for such 
trifles, he began to descant upon the merits of each 
article as he raised it from the ground, holding it 
up to the enraptured gaze of the Vizier, and 



MELANTHE. 153 

extolling the liberality of the Sultan, who had made 
him lord of all this wealth. The praises of his 
master were but faintly echoed by the Vizier; but 
his admiration for the jewels, and rich stuffs before 
him, was of the most heartfelt description. 

" Holy Allah,'' exclaimed he, " but these pearls 
are worth a kingdom. What fullness — what lustre,'' 
he continued, holding them up to the light, " and 
this ruby — by the beard of the Sultan, 'tis almost 
as fine as the one that his Highness wears in his 
turban of state — its worth is incalculable." 

" Incalculable," repeated Elphenor ; " nay, the 
value must surely somewhat depend upon the esti- 
mation in which it is held by its owner." 

" The Christian dog," thought Calil secretly, 
" he knows not a ruby from a lump of lead. Is it 
possible," he said aloud, " that in your country 
you esteem lightly a jewel of such price ?" 

" There are some things which would please me 
better," replied Elphenor, fixing his eyes on the 
face of Calil Pacha, " which, perhaps, are of little 
value to you." 

" If aught of mine hath pleased you," began 
Calil, cautiously 

H 5 



154 MELANTHE. 

" I speak not of jewels,'"* interrupted the Greek ; 
" but, first, can you be secret ?'"* he asked, inclining 
his head towards the Vizier, and speaking in a 
whisper. 

" Ah ! what mean you ?'"* said Calil, starting, and 
letting fall the precious string of pearls, which 
Elphenor instantly picked up. 

" I mean what 1 said," replied the Greek, 
calmly picking up, and feigning to count the 
pearls, in order to give the cupidity of the Vizier 
time to recover its usual ascendant. " They 
are magnificent," he continued, as he placed 
them in his vest, without seeming to remark 
the look of intense anxiety the movement excited 
upon the speaking countenance of the Vizier ; 
" and I thought, as you had a daughter of whom 
fame speaks so highly, they might have been a 
fitting present." 

"• My daughter Chezme ! — she is, indeed, a trea- 
sure in herself; but women are weak creatures, 
and love these bright gems, which to us are value- 
less," said Calil with an effort at indifference; 
" for my daughter indeed " 

" You might be inclined to barter some of the 



MELANTHE. 155 

Wondrous knowledge with which men say the 
Vizier's head is stored," said Elphenor, in a 
voice from which all sarcasm was with difficulty 
banished. 

" Nay— for my daughter's sake," began Calil, 
who had been turning the ruby he still held into 
every possible position during the flattering speech 
of Elphenor. " By Allah ! not a flaw is to be 
found in it ; yea, it is marvellous ; never did my 
eyes behold a stone so perfect !" he exclaimed, as 
if totally unable to repress the admiration which 
filled his soul. 

" It is yours," whispered Elphenor, " together 
with all you behold, if you swear to answer my 
questions honestly." 

" All — did you say all ?" asked the Vizier with 
an air of surprise. " All — why ? only look at this 
cloth of gold ; there is sufficient to cover the floor 
of the Hall of the Hundred Pillars; and these 
shawls — the finest cashmere wool. Holy Allah ! 
but each one is fit for the waist of the Sultan. 
And the green muslin— the Emirs will give any 
price for that— and — but did you say all ? he 
again asked of Elphenor, as, having turned over 



156 



MELANTHE. 



most of the goods which lay upon the ground, he 
suddenly espied two caskets set with sapphires and 
emeralds of so much magnificence, that the very 
doubt of possessing them almost took away his 
breath. 

" Yes ! all,'' replied the Greek, with difficulty 
suppressing the contempt which the agitated de- 
meanor of his companion inspired ; for Calil, 
kneeling on one knee in the midst of the heap of 
glittering objects, actually trembled from head to 
foot ; his round face, as he raised it towards El- 
phenor, growing every moment more and more 
crimson, while the intensity with which he fixed 
one eye upon the countenance of the Ambassador, 
had the effect of sending the other to watch over, in 
an oblique direction, the treasures which he almost 
felt to be his own. 

'* All !" repeated Elphenor, as he gave into the 
trembling hands of the Vizier the pearls which he 
had deposited in his vest. 

" And what must I give in exchange ?" asked 
Calil, with a slavish look at the towering form of 
Elphenor. 

" I ask but a few words,"*' replied the latter. 



MELANTHE. 157 

" Words are easily spoken," said Calil with 
animation, as his eyes gloated over his treasures ; 
" so they be not treasonable," he added, however, 
with a look of terror. 

" Or that they are not overheard,"" suggested 
Elphenor, lowering his voice. 

" Nay — we are safe enough here — your Christian 
soldiers guard this quarter of the palace." 

Elphenor smiled at the admission, and continued, 
— " How long will it be ere Mahomet be fully 
prepared to march upon Constantinople ?" 

*' Allah defend us — his Highness has no such 
intention," stammered Calil ; " we are friends to 
the Christians, are we not ?" 

" How long must it be," repeated Elphenor 
firmly, " before the army can be equipped ? and, 
when equipped, what force can the Sultan muster ?" 

" How can I tell ?" asked the Vizier, trembling 
from head to foot. " His Highness has not con- 
descended to inform me." 

" Forgive me — I am so unskilled in your laws — 
I may have erred, in thinking the Grand Vizier 
both knew and would speak the truth. I will not 



158 MELANTHE. 

inquire further; and,'' continued he, pointing to 
the floor, " our bargain of course is at an end.'' 

The word bargain instantly revived all the 
Jewish propensities of Calil, who, casting a wistful 
look upon his treasures, came close up to the side 
of Elphenor, and whispered, " If I trust you, my 
life is in your hands ; — what guarantee shall 1 have 
that you will not betray me to Mahomet ?'' 

" The simple fact that I have not already done 
so,'"" replied Elphenor. 

" Look upon this ;"" and he drew from his bosom 
a scroll, upon which the eye of Calil had no sooner 
rested, than his face faded to a hue almost cada- 
verous, and, while his teeth chattered so that he 
could scarcely articulate, he gasped forth — 

" Thou art a man of worth — generous, and to 
be trusted. I will trust thee. Know, then, that 
scarcely will the sound of thy horses' feet have 
died in the streets of Adrianople, as thou turnest 
thy back upon the city, than preparations will be 
commenced for the destruction of thine empire. 
Two hundred thousand men are ready to march 
with the morning light, and ships innumerable lie 



MELANTHE. 159 

concealed in various harbours along the coast. At 
a moment's warning, they will collect upon the 
seas; and, like a swarm of locusts, the Turkish 
troops will pour down from every side upon the 
unwary Christians. The Sultan'*s words are fair ; 
but hate is in his heart. This is the truth — Calil 
has spoken it. Be warned, and tarry not in a city 
already doomed ; for,"" continued the Vizier, as he 
turned his eyes to the floor, " thou art a man of 
worth .^"' 

" Desert my country, my Sovereign!"^ exclaimed 
Elphenor, fervently. " Never. TInhappy Con- 
stantine ! But I thank thee," he hastily added, as 
he checked the words of sorrow that rose to his 
lips. " You have fulfilled your promise; now let 
me perform mine." 

So saying, Elphenor was about to direct that 
the gorgeous presents of the Sultan should be 
transferred to the palace of the Vizier ; but Calil, 
interrupting him, explained, that, should it ever be 
surmised that he had received such riches from the 
Christian Ambassador, his life might be the instant 
forfeit. Drawing forth his tablets, he gave Elphe- 
nor the address of a Jewish merchant, and in a 



160 MELANTHE. 

short time the treasures, for which the Vizier had 
treacherously sold the secrets of his master, were 
collected by Elphenor, and dispatched, in his name, 
to the merchant, who was secretly leagued with 
the Vizier in all the infamous transactions in which 
he was constantly engaged. The danger which 
attended the course of life in which he indulged, 
did not appear to affect the spirit of Calil whenever 
his interest was concerned ; and upon this occasion, 
so exhilarated was he by the enormous profit which 
he had obtained, in return for his information, that 
he seemed totally forgetful of that peculiar gravity 
of demeanour, which, if not natural, the Turks 
practise as a habit, until it becomes almost insepa- 
rable from their words and actions. 

Calil, as his mind revelled in the recollection of 
the splendour of the pearls and rubies which he 
had made his own, totally forgot that he was a 
Turk; and laughed, and rubbed his short fat hands 
with most unbecoming glee. At length, just as he 
had bidden adieu to Elphenor, and was about to 
take his departure, as he said, upon matters of state, 
but, in reality, to count over his treasures at the 
house of his friend and confidant, an unusual 



MELANTHE. 161 

sound was heard without the walls of the palace; 
and an officer hastily informed the Vizier that a 
female slave from his harem demanded instant ad- 
mittance. Startled by so unexpected an occurrence, 
the Vizier had scarcely time to answer, ere the old 
negress, who was at the head of the female depart- 
ment, was seen pushing her way in at the door, 
and having disengaged herself from the guards, 
who would have held her back, she prostrated 
herself before the Vizier, exclaiming, with the wild- 
est cries, — 

'' She is gone ! She is gone ! Mercy ! Mercy !'' 

•'Who? what?"" exclaimed the terrified Vizier. 

" The Lady Chezme ; the rose of the harem ; 
the jewel of the eye of the Vizier. She is lost, 
lost ;" and again she broke forth into frantic cries. 

" Slave ! beast ! daughter of a dog, cease thy 
howling, and answer me. What does this mean P 
W^here is my daughter .?" roared the enraged Vizier, 
remembering, for the first time that day, that he 
had a daughter. 

" Alas ! how can I tell ?*" replied the woman, 
somewhat subdued by the fury of the Vizier. 
" Last evening, the Lady Chezm^ went forth to 



162 MELANTHE. 

place some flowers on the tomb of the Greek slave, 
Ayba, and she has never returned."' 

" Fool ! you did not suffer her to go alone," 
cried the Vizier, trembling with rage. 

" Nay ; she was attended, as usual, by four 
slaves,'' replied the negress ; " but saying she would 
be left alone to pray by the grave of Ayba, the 
slaves retired a few paces, and although they never 
took their eyes from the spot where they left her, 
she had disappeared in a moment. Oh, woe is 
me!" 

" They shall be flayed alive," screamed the 
Vizier ; " and every soul in the harem shall receive 
the bastinado on the soles of their feet, every alter- 
nate hour, until she be brought back." 

With these vvords Calil strode towards his 
palace, followed by the trembling negress, who was 
scarcely able to put her feet upon the ground, from 
the dreadful anticipation of the torture she ex- 
pected to endure. But vain were all the efforts of 
the Vizier; and the screams of the agonized slaves, 
as they were seized upon, to undergo their punish- 
ment, could not compensate for the anguish which 
filled the soul of the rapacious father, as he disco- 



MELAXTHE. 163 

vered that not only Chezme had fled, but that she 
had contrived to carry ofFall her valuable jewels; 
thus, at one blow, depriving him of the hope whicli 
he entertained, of placing her in the harem of the 
Sultan, and of property which he valued fully as 
much as he did the person of his child. His rage 
knew no bounds. The most active measures were 
set on foot ; but no clue could be found to her 
retreat ; and as any levity of conduct, once disco- 
vered in a Turkish woman, renders her compara- 
tively valueless, Calil at last smothered his dis- 
appointment in the best manner he could ; and 
affecting utter indifference upon the subject, the 
surprise of the event soon passed away, and the 
name of the beautiful Chezme was apparently for- 
gotten in Adrianople. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

It was with feelings of unfeigned delight that 
Calil Pacha watched the departure of the Christian 
Ambassador and his followers, as they slowly 
wended their way through the streets of Adriano- 
ple; and for many successive days, every moment 
that he could steal from his duties, and attendance 
upon the Sultan, was devoted to a conference with 
Levi, the Jewish merchant, who usually undertook 
the task of converting into gold the valuable pre- 
sents which the Vizier received. 

On the present occasion, it was more than ever 
necessary to dispose of the jewels bestowed by 
Elphenor, so that should any unforeseen accident 
occur, they might not be recognised as having 
belonged to the Imperial treasure. This could 
only be done by sending them to a distance for 
sale; yet to trust them to otliers,was a step to which 
the Vizier was very reluctant to consent. At last 



MELANTHE. 165 

it was arranged that they should be confided to the 
care of a party of Jewish merchants going to Venice 
and Genoa for the purposes of trade ; and having 
taken measures of precaution, which he imagined 
left no doubt of their security, Calil gave himself 
up to the delight of having fully succeeded in his 
schemes. If for a moment the loss of his daughter 
recurred unpleasantly to his mind, he quickly con- 
soled himself by the reflection that it was his fate ; 
and adored the wisdom of Allah, who, at the moment 
when he had permitted the loss of so much wealth, 
by the mysterious disappearance of Chezme, had 
not failed amply to compensate him for the misfor- 
tune, by disposing the heart of Elphenor to bestow 
upon him treasures of far greater value than those 
which she had taken. Unbounded was the belief 
of Calil in the doctrine of predestination ; and in 
this particular he did not essentially differ from his 
countrymen, whose infatuation upon this point 
off*ers a strange contradiction to the deference with 
which Mussulmen blindly adhere to the most 
minute details of their exacting and complicated 
creed. It is explicitly declared to them, by the 
words of Mahomet himself, that the doctrine of 



166 MELANTHE. 

predestination is not applicable to temporal affairs, 
but merely regards a certain portion of the human 
species, who, being predestined before their birth to 
eternal happiness or punishment, can by no means 
control their fate. 

This is distinctly set forth in the articles of their 
belief; andyet against the express commands of their 
Prophet, and in open defiance of the most learned 
expounders of their law, the whole Turkish nation 
indulges blindly in the dogma of predestination, 
scarcely admitting the power of freedom of will. 
Not only are the actions of individuals regulated by 
this belief, but the whole body, social and p»)litical, 
is so completely under the influence of fatalism, 
that the dictates of common sense, and the example 
of other countries are alike unheeded. Plunged 
in a state of lethargy, with them the spirit of resig- 
nation degenerates into passive indiiference. Attri- 
buting alY to the will of God — a celestial and 
invisible influence attending and directing each 
human being, all resources — improvements — or 
suggestions of prudence and forethought are abso- 
lutely neglected. The nation is enervated, and 
civilization retarded by a blind reliance on a falla- 



MELANTHE. 1C7 

cious doctrine to such a point, that a Mussulman can 
behold with placid indiiFerence his city reduced to 
ashes, and a sovereign mark unmoved the ravages 
of the pestilence which desolates his kingdom, nor 
take one step towards the prevention of a recur- 
rence of the same disasters, from the conviction 
that all has been pre-ordained. Strong as is this 
general delusion, it naturally increases or diminishes 
in violence, according to the amount of belief in 
fatalism professed by the reigning Sultan, and those 
highest in authority under him. 

Notwithstanding the superiority of intellect by 
which Mahomet IT. was eminently distinguished, 
his mind was deeply tinged by superstition, and 
the doctrine of predestination was perhaps the 
only point of belief which with any sincerity he 
professed. Like his namesake the Prophet, who 
on any emergency always produced a MT^of the 
Koran, which he pretended to have that moment 
received from heaven, Mahomet generally contrived 
so to mould his religious opinions and observances, 
as to impose upon the credulity of his people, and 
further his own ends. 

If the Sultan had been guilty of insincerity in 



168 MELANTHE. 

the profession of faith in predestination, his Vizier, 
Calil Pacha, could not be accused of ever having 
harboured a doubt of the truth of the doctrine. 
It was a comfortable and convenient creed, well 
suited to the lax morals of the Vizier. Beneath 
the shelter of its tenets, he could plunder the poor, 
and prey upon the rich with impunity ; and so 
fixed was his belief in fate, that he never hesitated 
in the commission of the greatest crimes, having 
been assured by an astrologer whom he consulted, 
that his latter days should be spent in peace and 
security. This conviction was most consolatory, 
and always supported the courage of the Vizier in 
the danfjerous situations in which he was too often 
placed by his own iniquity. Calil Pacha was a 
consummate hypocrite : a zealous Mussulman in 
public, he consoled himself for the privations he 
was obliged to undergo, by the most unbounded 
private indulgence. 

Mahomet II., who himself never tasted wine, 
had endeavoured to enforce the law of the Prophet 
which strictly forbids its use, by fulminating against 
all who offended on this point decrees of the most 
arbitrary nature. He ordained that all who were 



MELANTHE. 169 

detected in the act of drinking it, should be seized, 
and melted lead poured down their throats; and 
such was the determination with which he endea- 
voured to eradicate the vice of drunkenness from 
among his people, that one day when he was per- 
ambulating the city in disguise, in order to discover 
whether his commands were fully obeyed, having 
espied an unfortunate Mussulman upon the bank 
of the river vainly attempting to conceal his intox- 
ication, the Sultan, indignant at this flagrant in- 
fringement of the law, without hesitation, drew 
the bow he carried, and pierced the offender with an 
arrow between the shoulders, leaving him to find a 
watery grave beneath the waves of the Maritza. 

Even this example could not terrify the infatu- 
ated Vizier, who, consoling himself with the reflec- 
tion that the unfortunate drunkard must have been 
predestined to die in this manner, continued his 
own evil practices in secret. The use of opium 
had also been forbidden by Mahomet ; nevertheless 
the Vizier always carried a little box in which the 
interdicted drug was concealed, and frequently 
contrived to quit the presence of his master for a 
few moments, even upon state occasions, that he 

VOL. I. I 



170 MELANTHE. 

might swallow a portion of this favourite stimulant. 
Great difficulty existed as to the indulgence of his 
passion for wine. As Mahomet had caused the 
shops to be demolished where it had formerly been 
sold, it could only be procured by stealth ; and a 
confidential slave, named Hassan, was employed by 
the Vizier to convey as much of it as was required 
for the day, to his palace, where the same slave 
always served it to the Vizier in cups of brass or 
silver, in order that its colour might not attract the 
attention of the other servants in attendance. But 
this was at the hour of the usual repast. It was 
only in the evening that Calil could venture to 
indulge to excess. Then, secure from interruption, 
and released from his attendance upon his master, 
he would retire to his sleeping apartment, where 
Hassan had already prepared a supper of the most 
highly seasoned dishes, intermixed with olives, 
caviar, anchovies, sardines, and every description of 
salted meat and fish tliat could create thirst. It 
seldom happened that the Vizier was sensible of the 
manner in which these orgies terminated. He was 
obliged to trust to Hassan, who, as he performed 
the office of barber the next morning, usually gave 



MELANTHE. 171 

him a detailed account of all that he could not 
himself remember, at which the Vizier always 
laughed heartily, while Hassan was rewarded with 
a piece of gold. 

One night, however, the consequences of his 
habitual indulgence in this vice threatened to be of 
a more serious nature than usuaL Having drank 
deeply of some delicious Cyprus wine, which Has- 
san had procured for him, the Vizier had retired 
to rest, and having fallen into a deep sleep, was 
suddenly aroused by a violent knocking at his door, 
which he had secured within to prevent detection. 
For some time he was only sufficiently awake to be 
sensible of the noise, without knowing from whence 
it proceeded. He turned restlessly on his pillow — 
still the sound continued ; while his burning temples 
throbbed, and every stroke seemed to fall upon his 
excited brain, until it reeled beneath the agony. 

'' Pity me — s^iare me,'' he cried, as, still in his 
sleep, he imagined himself already in the tomb, 
where the Turks suppose the blue and black 
angels, Munnker and Nadir, beat the heads of 
those who die in sin, with red-hot hammers, till 
the day of judgment. " Pity me — let me rest a 
moment-^my head is on fire. I believed in God — 



172 MELANTHE. 

and that Mahomet was his Prophet. I did not die 
in sin — Oh ! oh !" he exclaimed, with a shriek, as a 
louder blow upon the door shook the walls of the 
room, and reverberated through his brain with so 
fierce a pang, that at length the Vizier awoke. 

" Where am I ?" he cried, in a helpless tone, at 
the same time groping about with his hands— but 
in another moment the voice of Hassan, calling 
upon him to unfasten the door, reached his be- 
wildered senses. His recollection slowly returned, 
although it was some time before the dizziness of 
his head would permit him to reach the door, upon 
which Hassan still kept up an unmerciful shower 
of blows. At length the Vizier contrived to open 
it ; and as the light, which Hassan carried in his 
hand, fell upon the figure which presented itself to 
his view, the habitual gravity and reverence of a 
slave for his master almost gave way, and Hassan 
cast his eyes upon the ground without venturing 
to take a second look. The rotund figure of Calil 
was displayed to advantage by the cotton vest and 
drawers in which all Mussulmen pass the night ; 
but in the fever which the wine had produced, the 
arrangements of the Vizier's sleeping dress were 
sadly disturbed ; his drawers were pushed up above 



MEL AN THE. 173 

the knee, his sleeves above the elbow, while his 
shaven head was divested of cap or turban. It 
was some time before he could understand the 
words which were addressed to him, and he con- 
tinued standing in the middle of the room, with his 
lips apart, his knees bent, and his hands stretched 
out — a picture of the helpless state of idiotcy to 
which his degrading passion had reduced him. At 
length, Hassan, whose vigilance had protected his 
master from exposure, and who now busied himself 
in collecting the various articles of his dress, suc- 
ceeded in explaining to him, that the Sultan desired 
his immediate presence. 

" Holy Allah ! '' exclaimed the unfortunate 
Vizier ; " how unlucky that his Highness should 
want me ! Woe is me ! doubtless his wrath is 
kindled — what have I done.?'' 

" So please you," suggested Hassan, " it may 
be an affair of state. There is no danger *' 

" Danger — oh ! yes, there is always danger at 
unusual hours," said Calil with a groan ! " What 
have I done ? But I have done nothing — nothing — " 
he repeated, with the stupid stare of drunkenness ; 
and then, as if to satisfy himself of his safety, he 
began to recapitulate the twelve deadly sins which, 



174 MELANTHE. 

if he avoids, a Mussulman thinks himself secure of 
salvation. 

As the Vizier proceeded to give proofs of his 
innocence, Hassan with some difficulty endeavoured 
to adjust the dress of his master, listening as he 
did so to the assurance which Calil repeated after 
every sin, that, as it had never been committed by 
him, so neither his hfe, here nor hereafter, could 
be in any danger ! The eleventh sin had just been 
enumerated, when, as the Vizier had pronounced 
the words, " Neither have T drank,"" — his eye 
rested upon a table, the contents of which seemed 
to rise giant-like before his eyes. With a look of 
agony he pointed to the empty flask, exclaiming, 
as he trembled from head to foot — 

" Oh ! Hassan, it is the wine ! Woe is me ! It 
is the wine ! Alas ! alas ! that delicious Cyprus — 
and the Shiraz — it was nectar. Who would have 
thought it could have brought this trouble upon 
me ? Oh ! Hassan ! good Hassan ! thou wilt be 
faithful; thou wilt swear, if called upon, that it 
was drugs from the Apothecary. Here— here is 
another piece of gold — and take this ring, for thou 
art faithful, good Hassan !" 

" Nay — my lord need not be afraid,"*' replied 



MELANTHE. 175 

Hassan, carefully depositing the piece of gold in 
his vest ; " one sin out of twelve is not much. 
Allah is merciful ! And besides, has not the 
Prophet declared that all — even the twelve deadly 
sins — shall be forgiven to a true believer ?'^ 

" True— true, good Hassan ! worthy Hassan I"' 
replied the Vizier, quickly; " the Prophet has 
said so. Faith will wash out sin — and I have 
faith. I believe there is no God but God, and 
Mahomet is his Prophet ! Thanks, good Hassan ! 
Yes, I have faith."' 

Satisfied with this profession, which the absurdity 
of the Mahomedan creed declares to be all that is 
necessary to secure salvation, when pronounced 
even at the eleventh hour, by the greatest criminal, 
the Vizier proceeded to finish his toilet. He put 
on his robe of state, lined with fur ; and filling a 
goblet of gold with coins sufficient to make the 
customary offering, he hastily swallowed some iced 
sherbet, which the attentive Hassan had provided ; 
and having regained somewhat of his accustomed 
composure, proceeded to attend upon his sovereign. 



CHAPTER XV. 

It needed all the deep abstraction of mind, 
under which Elphenor laboured, to prevent his 
perceiving the change which had taken place in 
the manner of his young favourite, Demetrius of 
Ypsara. No one would have recognised the gay 
youth, who had entered the city of Adrianople in a 
spirit of buoyancy almost beyond control, as they 
looked upon the sorrowful and downcast mien of 
him who rode by the side of the Ambassador, on 
his return to Constantinople. Dismal and self- 
reproving were, indeed, the thoughts which crowded 
upon the mind of Demetrius. He had learned from 
common report only, of the death of Ayba, and 
the flight of Chezme ; but beyond the simple facts, 
he had not been able to gain any intelligence. 

The disappearance of the daughter of the Vizier 
was a mystery into which, since her father had 



MELANTHE. 177 

disdained farther inquiry, no one sought to pene- 
trate ; and the death of a slave was, in that country, 
an incident of too trivial a nature to excite atten- 
tion. Thus the manner in which poor Ayba had 
died, remained a secret from Demetrius, and he 
was spared the additional horror of believing that 
it was through his means that she had been induced 
to commit self-destruction. While ignorant of the 
manner of her death, the heart of Demetrius could 
not disavow the belief that her love for him had 
been the cause of much sorrow to Ayba; and 
deeply touched by the untimely fate of one so 
gentle and unhappy, he almost forgot his own 
grief, and the anxiety with which the disappear- 
ance of Chezme had filled him. From the moment 
he had parted from her in the gardens of the 
harem, he had never again beheld the form he so 
ardently sought. In vain had he lingered in the 
streets and bazaars, which had formerly served 
them with pretexts for meeting; the voice he 
would have recognised even in a whisper, never 
again met his ear. Worn out by anxiety and love, 
he would sometimes abandon all hope of meeting 
in the city, and taking a caique, linger for hours 
I 5 



178 MELANTHE. 

upon the river, in the hope that she whom he 
sought might revisit the spot where they had 
parted ; nothing was visible but the steep wall, 
surmounted by the balustrade of marble, from 
which he had thrown himself upon the bosom of 
the waters, and the gilded roof of the kiosk peeping 
out from its shelter of flowers, backed by the tall 
cypress trees, which seemed to stand like its guards 
around it. 

The startling intelligence of the flight of Chezme 
appeared, in some measure, to account for the silence 
and solitude to which he had been thus suddenly 
condemned. The news burst upon his ear like a 
clap of thunder. So unexpectedly had it come, 
and so quickly had all trace of Chezme vanished, that 
sometimes even Demetrius, as he turned from the 
city where events so strange had occurred, almost 
doubted whether the form he had so madly wor- 
shipped, had been a reality, or merely a vision of 
beauty unknown upon the earth. As this thought 
frequently recurred, a glance at the ring which 
Chezme had placed upon his finger would re-assure 
him, and, smiling at his fancies, the heart of 
Demetrius beat once again with gladness, when he 



MELANTHE. 179 

remembered her parting words, " Chezme will one 
day redeem her ring !'' 

There is comfort in hope, however distant ; and 
the sigh of Demetrius was less sad as he dwelt 
upon this promise, though, as the cavalcade wound 
slowly on, and he turned to take a last look at the 
city ere it was shut out from his view by the rising 
ground, tears rushed to his eyes, for the white walls 
and tall cypress and cedar of the cemetery gleamed 
for a moment in the noon-day sun, and he thought 
of the poor Greek girl, who, deceived by his idle 
protestations of love, had so often watched for his 
approach beneath the same trees which now 
shadowed her tomb. Dark and terrible was this 
thought ; for Demetrius was young, and not yet 
become hardened in vice, or in that worldly 
stoicism which deadens remorse, and steels the heart 
against sympathy. 

His attention, however, was suddenly withdrawn 
from his reflections by the voice of Elphenor, who, 
having for some time complained of indisposition, 
was now evidently in such an alarming state of 
illness, that it became impossible for him to pro- 
ceed. It was the second day of their journey; 



180 MELANTHE. 

and from his anxiety to reach Constantinople as 
speedily as possible, Elphenor, soon after they 
had quitted Adrianople, left the main body of his 
attendants, desiring them to follow slowly, and 
with Demetrius, and a few followers, had ridden 
forward, apparently with more speed than pru- 
dence. The violent heat of the sun had materially 
increased the fever under which he had, in secret, 
suffered for many days, and which had been 
occasioned by the deep anxiety which circum- 
stances had obliged him to repress, and the haras- 
sing delay of his return, which, at such a time, 
he felt to be of importance to the cause of his 
sovereign. Struggling against the weakness which 
every moment increased, Elphenor had hoped, by 
extraordinary exertion, to accomplish his journey : 
but it could not be; and by the time when he 
acknowledged he could go no farther, he was in 
such a state of exhaustion that two attendants 
could scarcely support him in his saddle. 

Demetrius looked around in vain. The tract of 
country which they had reached was the most deso- 
late portion of the journey ; not a village or habi- 
tation appeared in sight, and they were forced to 



MELANTHE. 181 

proceed, for some distance, beneath the rays of a 
burning sun, at the imminent danger of the hfe of 
Elphenor, until, having reached the brow of a high 
hill, Demetrius beheld with delight the white walls 
of a large building at no great distance. With 
renewed hopes they hastened forward — a narrow 
path through a deep and sandy soil led to the door 
of what appeared to be a prison ; but Demetrius 
observing the strange attitude of a man sitting upon 
a stone, with his eyes closed and one arm fastened 
with a thong of leather far above his head, per- 
ceived, by the long hair and pallid hue of his face, 
that they had arrived at a convent of Dervishes. 

"Can we obtain admittance within the convent, for 
one who is in danger of death ?"*' inquired Demetrius, 
as, springing from his horse, he uncovered his head, 
and approached reverently, in the hope of concili- 
ating the extraordinary being whom he addressed. 
Startled by the sound of a voice so near him, the 
Dervish opened his eyes for an instant, but closed 
them again with a shudder, as they rested on the 
unhallowed form of Demetrius, clothed in the 
bright and handsome dress which was the fashion of 
the day. 



182 MELANTHE. 

'' Holy father,'' said Demetrius, " will you not 
assist us ?" 

" La ilhahi il Allah — There is no God but 
God," exclaimed the Dervish, without seeming to 
hear the question addressed to him. 

" For pity's sake, admit us," entreated Deme- 
trius. 

" Yd Alldh—oh God ! — Yd cahhar — oh ! aveng- 
ing God," again exclaimed the Dervish, with a 
prolonged shudder at committing the involuntary 
sin of listening to the words of a Christian. 

" Will you not speak to me ?" cried Demetrius in 
despair ; for as he spoke in the Turkish language he 
was aware that he was understood, and that nothing 
but a vow of silence could arrest the well known 
charity and benevolence of a Mussulman to the sick 
or distressed. 

" Tell me, at least, if I may enter the walls of 
the convent without offence?" he added humbly. 

" Yd hdkk— oh just God ! — Yd Iidik — oh living 
God !" again ejaculated the Dervish, closing his 
eyes more firmly than ever. Demetrius, despairing 
of success, left him to mutter over the seven articles 
of his belief, by which a Dervish hopes to atone 



MELANTHE. 183 

for sin and avoid temptation, and making a sign 
to the attendants to remain where they were — as, 
having lifted Elphenor from his horse, they stood 
with their mantles extended, to screen him from the 
sun as he lay upon the ground, Demetrius boldly 
entered the convent. 

It was a square enclosure surrounded by a sort of 
low portico, or covered walk. Demetrius started back 
with horror at the first sight which met his view. 
A man, apparently in the last stage of consumption, 
was suspended by his long hair to a beam attached 
to the roof of the portico ; his feet scarcely touched 
the ground, and his arms were strapped tightly 
behind him. For a moment Demetrius believed 
that he was dead, but on approaching he perceived, 
by the large drops of perspiration, mingled with 
the blood that oozed from the roots of his hair 
from the violence of the tension, that the unfortu- 
nate man was indeed living. He appeared scarcely 
to have reached the prime of life, but so wan and 
emaciated was his face, that it was quite transpa- 
rent ; and the lips, drawn down at the corners with 
an expression of patient agony, were blue and livid, 
and barely concealed the teeth beneath them, every 



184 MELANTHE. 

one of which was marked out with horrible dis- 
tinctness upon the faded skin. 

It seemed like mockery to address one in such a 
state ; and, moving on, Demetrius came to another 
man who, sitting upon the ground with his head 
between his knees, did not appear in such a state of 
exhaustion. But vain was all attempt at conversa- 
tion; and had it not been for the words " Yd 
Allah — oh God! — Yd hou — He who alone is God," 
which were repeated on all sides as those wretched 
fanatics who had committed the involuntary sin of 
listening to, or looking at, any thing contrary to 
their vow, endeavoured to make their peace with 
Heaven, Demetrius would have imagined himself 
in the presence of a deaf and dumb community. 

Horrible was the scene in which he stood ! On 
every side these poor misguided wretches were in- 
tent on performing their self-imposed penance. 
Several were hanging a little distance from the 
ground, suspended by one arm, others by one leg; 
while some were tied up by both feet, and lay with 
their heads upon the earth, the blood gushing from 
their ears and nostrils. All were apparently in 
agony, and yet not a groan, not a complaint was 



MELANTHE. 185 

heard. If an involuntary sob burst from some 
breast unable to endure its load of torture, it was 
quickly followed by the exclamations of " Yd 
Allah ! Yd hou ! Yd hdkk r uttered in a tone 
of the most abject supplication. 

Filled with horror at the idea, that so many 
human beings could be found, even in the small 
space of one convent, who imagined such acts of 
barbarity could be acceptable to a God of mercy, 
Demetrius, without further attempt at eliciting 
permission from any of those present, passed on to 
the interior of the building, in the hope of meeting 
with some of its inmates unshackled by the imme- 
diate performance of any act of penance. In this, 
for some time, he was disappointed ; he only seemed 
to have passed from one lunatic asylum to another: 
for in all the cells which were open he espied the 
performance of some act of austerity; while, in a 
large room into which he walked without ceremony, 
many men, whose grizzled locks betokened an age 
which should have brought wisdom, were hopping 
on one leg round the room ; some sitting on their 
knees, swaying their bodies to and fro ; others were 
running up and down, incessantly repeating the 



186 MELANTHE. 

well-known words, ••' La ilhahi il Allah ! — There 
is no God but God !" and a few were dancing in a 
sort of measured step, as they lowlj chaunted the 
same words in a monotonous tone. 

At last, as in despair Demetrius was about to 
depart, a rosy and well-fed face caught his eye; 
and though crowned with the high cap of the Der- 
vishes, Demetrius fancied that a countenance so at 
variance with the spirit of the tribe betokened a 
heart capable of human sensations. 

" For the love of God !" exclaimed Demetrius, 
hastily pushing open the door, from behind which 
the Dervish had been stealthily gazing upon the 
contortions of the devoted within the room of 
penance, " have mercy upon a sick person, and 
receive us, if it be only for the night, within your 
walls. You shall not lack reward for your trouble,'" 
he added hastily, as, perceiving that the man con- 
descended to listen and to look at him, he drew 
from his vest a purse of gold, and placed it in the 
hand of the Dervish. 

" AVhat can T do to serve you ?'' asked the man 
civilly, while the decided foreign accent in which 
he spoke the Turkish words, caused Demetrius to 



MELAXTHE. 187^ 

start with surprise. Unwilling, however, to show 
that he had discovered anything which the supposed 
Dervish might wish to conceal, Demetrius briefly 
explained his business, and received the comforting 
assurance that the wants of Elphenor and his suite 
should be attended to. 

Without further delay, the Dervish accompanied 
Demetrius to the gate, where the sick man lay; and 
having caused him to be lifted up in the arms of 
two inferior servants, whom he had summoned to 
assist him, he was about to enter the court by 
which Demetrius had gained access to the interior 
of the convent. 

" Is there no other way?" involuntarily exclaimed 
Demetrius, as he shuddered on remembering the 
horrible objects which must meet the eye of Elphe- 
nor. " The sick are fanciful, and cannot bear 
strange sights as we can,"'' he added, in an apolo- 
getic tone, fearing to offend the prejudices of his 
new acquaintance. 

The Dervish merely turned upon him a quiet 
smile, and, motioning to his attendants, led the 
way round to another entrance. Demetrius soon 
had the happiness of seeing Elphenor placed in a 



188 MELANTHE. 

cool and secluded cell, and a bed prepared for him, 
which, if homely, was at least preferable to remain- 
ing longer in the open air, exposed to the heat of 
the sun. The Dervish, who appeared to act as the 
physician of the establishment,* now felt the pulse 
of the sick man, and gravely ejaculating, " Yd 
Allah r and " Yd hou f a sufficient number of 
times, even while a slight expression of contempt 
might have been detected lurking beneath the 
assumed air of veneration with which he pro- 
nounced the words, he administered to his patient 
a cooling draught, to allay the thirst from which 
he suffered ; and, leaving Demetrius to watch by 
the bedside of his friend, withdrew, promising a 
speedy return. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

All that night Demetrius watched by the couch 
of Elphenor, and by the dim light of the solitary 
lamp which had been placed outside the unclosed 
door of the wretched cell, he could see the dusky 
forms of the Dervishes as they flitted along the 
passage in their long black dresses, while the hum 
of subdued voices, repeating their words of prayer, 
continued incessant. Nothing could exceed the ap- 
parent misery and discomfort of these self-afflicted 
devotees; and Demetrius, as he looked upon 
them, could scarcely believe that infatuation could 
lead human beings into so false an estimate of 
happiness or duty. As the day dawned, he hoped 
that, the penance of the night being concluded, a 
reprieve might be granted to themselves, by the 
fanatics by whom he was surrounded ; but he was 
mistaken. These credulous enthusiasts, always in 
a state bordering on insanity, had no sooner com- 



190 MELANTHE. 

pleted one penance than they began another ; and 
tl\e sound of tears and sobs were intermingled 
with howls and yells, and exclamations of " Yd 
Allah r and "Fa hou /" in every gradation of tone 
that it was possible to conceive. 

Fortunately, the continued noise did not reach 
the ear of Elphenor ; for the specifics which had 
been administered to him, had had the effect of 
producing a lethargic sleep, from which it did not 
seem easy to arouse him. Satisfied with the look 
of confidence with which the Dervish who had 
prescribed for him, pronounced the disorder to be 
favourably proceeding, Demetrius resigned his 
place to an attendant ; and following his new 
friend, who had invited him to pay him a visit in 
his department of the monastery, beheld with sur- 
prise, that he conducted him to a very comfortable 
corner by the side of the kitchen fire. 

" I fancied you were a pliysician,'' exclaimed 
Demetrius, as he saw the Dervish beginning with 
his own hands to prepare some meat which lay 
uj)on a table before him. 

" So I am, when it suits me,"" replied the man, 
with a sly look at his visitor ; "I have travelled 



MELANTHE. ^ 191 

far and wide, and have some knowledge of medi- 
cine ; but in ordinary times I am a cook."" 

" A cook !'' replied Demetrius, with a smile ; " I 
should not have thought that the austerities of your 
order permitted much indulgence in the pleasures 
of the table?'' 

" You are right enough there,"" replied the 
Dervish. " The monastery belongs to the order 
of the Rufayis, the strictest of all the orders of 
Dervishes ; and even those who are not bound by 
a vow of abstinence, have never more than two 
dishes on their table, and those of the plainest 
sort." 

" Then, of what use are the number of cooks I 
see there employed ?" asked Demetrius, pointing 
to an inner room, where several persons were ap- 
parently occupied in culinary affairs. 

" They are novices, studying for admission," 
replied the Dervish ; " for though it may appear 
strange to you, it is the rule that every one who 
aspires to belong to our order, should serve in the 
lowest offices of the kitchen, for a thousand and 
one days. I myself have passed through such a 
noviciate, and have reached the dignity of Aschdjy 



192 MELANTHE. 

Baschy, or chief of the kitchen, and have the 
privilege of recommending to the Scheik such as 
are candidates for admission." 

" But surely,"" said Demetrius, " you do not 
practise all the austerities of the order ?"" 

" Heaven forbid!" ex claimed the Dervish, smiling; 
" you forget that penance is voluntary. It may suit 
some people's taste, but it does not happen to suit 
mine." 

" Then how is it that you seem to have so much 
power here?" asked Demetrius, " for I have 
always heard that those who inflicted most torture 
on themselves, were esteemed the highest among 
the Dervishes." 

" Hush!" said the man, putting his finger on 
his lips as he approached Demetrius ; " there are 
secrets in all houses. The Scheik is my friend. 
He is held as infallible ; and in the privacy of his 
cell, a good supper is sometimes acceptable — you 
understand." 

" Perfectly," replied Demetrius, with a smile. 
" Still T cannot comprehend why you should have 
chosen a situation where so many painful objects 
must be constantly before your eyes .^" 



MELANTHE. 193 

" One must live,*" answered the happy-looking 
Dervish, with a shrug of his shoulders. " I have 
travelled over half the world. I have been a barber, 
a baker, a lawyer, a doctor, a soldier, and a tailor ; 
but, believe me, not one of these professions is 
equal to that of religion. Only persuade people 
that you know better how to take care of their 
souls than they do themselves, and all that they 
possess is your's." 

" And pray, how do you manage to make it 
a profitable business?"*' asked Demetrius, much 
amused at the frankness of the man. 

" Oh, very easily,'"* replied he. " Though begging 
is forbidden, yet receiving alms is allowable to 
our order ; and as every one is obliged to gi ve 
into the public treasury all that he collects, it 
amounts, in the course of the year, to a very 
considerable sum.'' 

" Too considerable, I suppose, for the wants of 
the community," observed Demetrius laughing. 

" Exactly so," replied the Dervish with a mock 
attempt at gravity ; '* and as my office combines 
that of treasurer, it is my duty to see that any 
surplus there may be, should be well applied." 

VOL. r. IT 



194 MELANTHE. 

" I am no longer surprised,'' said Demetrius, 
" at your choice of a profession. I conclude you 
will not be in a hurry to abandon iC 

" Not as long as credulity and hypocrisy make 
it as valuable as it is now," replied the Dervish. 

" I know not why,'' he continued, fixing his 
eyes on the face of his guest, " I have trusted you 
so readily with my secrets — but something in your 
countenance bespeaks honesty — you will not betray 
me." 

" Never," said Demetrius warmly. " The ties of 
gratitude forbid it, as well as those of honour." 

" I believe you," replied the Dervish. " And 
now," he continued, as he set before Demetrius the 
dish he had been preparing during his conversation, 
" when you have breakfasted, if j^ou will consent 
to conceal yourself behind the door of the great 
room, you can witness the admittance of a novice 
into the order. This day is the appointed time ; 
and, being Thursday, is also the day of divers exer- 
cises, which may interest, if not amuse you." 

Delighted with this permission, Demetrius 
hastened to finish his meal, and following his 
friend the cook, was conducted by him to a 



MELANTHE. 195 

recess close to the door, from which he could 
easily perceive all that took place in the room 
within. 

" Is it not permitted to strangers to witness the 
mysteries of your sect ?"" asked Demetrius, seeing 
that the Dervish hesitated. 

" They are not forbidden," replied the latter. 
" That is, on consideration of bestowing alms upon 
the community. But '' 

" I understand,"" said Demetrius, showing a 
purse well-lined with gold. " Let me see the 
mysteries of which I have heard so much, and 
this shall be your's — ^but why must we conceal 
ourselves ?" 

" You may, perhaps,"' see things that will startle 
you,'' replied the Dervish ; " and it is better that 
you should remain concealed, as any exclamation 
would be deemed an offence. And, now I will 
leave you, for I must fulfil my part in the 
ceremony." 

In a few minutes the room began to fill. An 
old man, who was evidently the Scheik, or chief 
of the convent, was conducted with much respect 
by several Dervishes, and placed in the angle of the 



196 MELANTHE. 

sofa, the place of honour amongst the Mussulmen. 
The candidate for admission then entered, accom- 
panied by the Aschdjy Baschy, or chief of the 
kitchen, who, placing one hand upon the forehead, 
and the other upon the nape of the neck of the 
novice as he knelt before the Scheik, held his cap 
above his head, while he repeated the Persian 
distich ordained by the founder of the order : — 
" It is true happiness, and real grandeur, to close 
the heart against human passions. It is the 
victory given to the faithful, by the grace of our 
holy Prophet;' 

These words were followed by a hymn; after 
which, the neophyte received his cap ; and retiring 
to the middle of the room, around which the 
Dervishes were kneeling on sheep-skins, he, with 
the Aschdjy Baschy, placed themselves in a pos- 
ture of humility, with their hands crossed upon 
their breasts, their heads bent towards the left 
shoulder, and the left foot carefully concealed by 
the right. This was followed by an exhortation to 
the novice, and a prayer of some duration ; after 
which the Scheik rising, exclaimed, in a loud voice, 
" Let us give praise to Allah !**' and the whole as- 



MELAXTHE. 197 

sembly vociferated the words "Allah!" and "Hou," 
until Demetrius was nearly deafened by the noise. 

This concluded the ceremony ; the new Dervish 
kissed the hand of the Scheik, and was, in his turn, 
embraced by all his brethren, who then dispersed ; 
and the chief cook, gliding to the side of Demetrius, 
informed him that the holy exercises were about to 
begin. 

The Scheik, placing himself in a niche at one 
side of the room, Demetrius first observed that it 
contained a small altar, beneath which was a 
brazier full of live coals ; and around, upon the wall, 
were ranged a variety of knives, daggers, and 
swords, suspended by the handles. As many of 
the Dervishes as chose to take part in the exercises 
having seated themselves on the floor in a circle, 
the Scheik began by reciting the seven mysterious 
sentences of their creed, which commenced by the 
exclamations which Demetrius had already heard of 
" La ilhahi — il Allah — yd Allah — ya hou^ &c. 
&c. &c., to which the assembly answered in chorus, 
ejaculating, in a tone so unearthly, the words 
" Allah,'' and " Hou," that the dismal sounds fell 
with a chill on the heart of Demetrius. 



198 MELANTHE. 

Suddenly the circle appeared transformed into 
maniacs ; they rose from the ground, and dashing 
off their caps and robes, twined their arms 
together, pressing close to each other's sides, and 
began a movement first from right to left, then 
backwards and forwards, executed with such preci- 
sion, that they seemed to form but one body. 
Every instant the velocity of the movement, and the 
loudness of the tone in which they exclaimed " Yd 
Allah,'' and " Yd hou,'' increased, and continued 
so violent that at last some of their number fell 
exhausted upon the floor. Each time that this 
occurred the Scheik clapped his hands, and en- 
couraging them to proceed, their motions became 
more and more frantic ; their cries now changed to 
yells; and the exhaustion they had previously 
manifested gave way to a frenzy which was terrific 
to behold. They jumped, screamed, and swung 
round like madmen ; but the blood of Demetrius 
ran cold as he beheld several of the most excited 
rush to the altar, and seizing the knives and daggers 
which hung there, thrust them into the fire. As 
soon as they were red hot they presented them 
to the Scheik, who breathing lightly upon them 



MELAXTHE. 199 

recited some words, and invoked the protection of 
Ahmed Rufayi, the founder of the order ; after 
which he returned them to those who pressed 
forward most eagerly. 

Then began the dreadful scene, upon which 
Demetrius had no sooner cast his eyes, than a cry 
of horror, which he was unable to suppress, burst 
from his lips. 

" As you value your life, be silent,'' whispered 
the Dervish, as he placed his hand upon the mouth 
of Demetrius. " In this state, even a Dervish 
would not be safe from their fury, did they imagine 
his zeal was inferior to their own." 

With a groan Demetrius turned again, to observe 
the excitement of the wretched fanatics, who, in the 
doctrine of their religious ecstacy, were inflicting 
the most fearful tortures on themselves. Some of 
those who had received the heated irons, applied 
them to their foreheads, cheeks, lips, or arms ; 
while others held them in their mouths until cool. 
Those who had not been fortunate enough to obtain 
them, seized upon the daggers that were left un- 
heated, and plunged them into different parts of 
their body, leaving them sticking in the wounds, as 



200 MELANTHE. 

they ran round the room, ejaculating the name of 
Allah ! Not a groan nor complaint was heard ! 
with unflinching courage they continued their bar- 
barous self-mutilation ; and if any did sink under 
the infliction, he was hastily laid upon the sofa 
which surrounded the apartment, while the rest 
continued their fiendish rites, screaming, singing, 
dancing — all wound up to a pitch of insanity, that 
made them more resemble an assembly of demons 
than human creatures. 

" I can bear no more,"" said Demetrius in a voice 
of anguish, as he drew the arm of the Dervish 
towards him. 

Just then, one of the unhappy wretches ap- 
proached the spot where they stood, and seizing a 
pair of pincers that hung upon the wall, began to 
pull out his teeth — a favourite demonstration of 
devotion to the Prophet, who lost two at the 
famous battle of Uhhud. Several teeth had already 
fallen a sacrifice to the fury of the intoxicated en- 
thusiast, when his strength yielding to the anguish, 
his hand refused the barbarian office, and he sank 
fainting upon the floor, already stained and smeared 
with the blood of his companions. 



MELANTHK. 201 

Even the Dervish, who stood by Demetrius, 
shuddered as he looked upon the wan coun- 
tenance of him who lay at his feet ; and turn- 
ing to his companion, who, sick with horror, 
was standing motionless by his side, whispered to 
him to follow him; and gliding unperceived 
through the half-open door, they withdrew from 
the dreadful scene, though for some time they 
could hear the frantic cries and exclamations of the 
fanatics, and louder still, the voice of the old 
Scheik, as he encouraged them, by words and 
gestures, whenever their strength appeared to fail. 

" Good heavens r exclaimed Demetrius, " is it 
possible that an old man should like to look upon 
such a sight ? and yet yon aged Scheik seems 
absolutely to enjoy it ?'' 

'' He does, indeed, enjoy it," replied the Dervish ; 
" every person who joins the sect pays a tribute to 
the public treasury. As only a certain number can 
be admitted at a time, each Dervish that falls a 
sacrifice to his notions of religion, leaves a vacancy 
for which there are many candidates. Now you 
understand why the Scheik is so anxious to 
encourage an exercise, from which many will never 
K 5 



202 MELAKTHE. 

recover; and even if they should withstand the 
torture, you know I am a physician as well as 
a cook — a quieting draught is easily administered." 

" You do not murder them ?" cried Demetrius, 
starting in horror from the side of his com- 
panion. 

" I only obey my superior, when he judges it 
fitting to put a stop to their pain ; that is not 
murder, you know," replied the Dervish, with an 
expression of carelessness that made Demetrius 
shudder, as he reflected on the state of Elphenor, 
whose life had been entrusted to this man. 

" For the love of God, tell me,*" he said in a 
tone of entreaty, " is this horrible practice common 
in this country ? and he who lies sick in yonder 
cell '' 

" Is in no danger whatever," interrupted the 
Dervish, laughing ; " he who claims our pity, is 
safe within these walls." 

" But what proof can you give me, that I should 
trust you ?" said Demetrius, with hesitation. 

*' The same security," replied the Dervish, 
" which, in return for your promise, induced me 
to trust you with the secrets of our order." 



MELANTHE. 203 

" My honour !" began Demetrius, as he pro- 
duced his purse 

" Is but a Christian boast," interrupted the 
Dervish, with a coolness that sent the hot blood to 
the cheek of Demetrius, " empty and vain. We 
Mussulmen have a surer guide — a reliance upon 
which tells me you will not betray me, while it 
might convince you that I could have no wish to 
injure you." 

" And what is that ?"" asked Demetrius. 

" Self interest,'^ replied the Dervish, taking the 
purse ; and as he turned away, a smile of contempt 
played upon his lips, at his frank avowal of the 
lesson which his commerce with mankind had 
taught him. 



CHAPTER XVII. 

There is no moment in the life of a Grand 
Vizier so awful as that in which he receives, at 
an unusual hour, a summons to the presence of his 
sovereign. The reason for such a summons may 
vary, from the most urgent state business to a 
trifling detail of parade which may have just 
occurred to the fancy of the despot ; or, it may 
regard the life or death of some person hitherto 
high in favour, while it has not unfrequently been 
the forerunner of the disgrace of the Viziers them- 
selves. 

Calil Pacha well knew, that if the first words 

from the mouth of Mahomet were to contain the 

» 

sentence of his punishment and death, he would 
still be summoned to hear his doom in the royal 
presence, and be received with the same form as 
was customary. It did not, tlierefore, at all 
diminish his uneasiness, as he approached the 



MELANTHE. 205 

chamber of Mahomet, to perceive that almost all 
the usual attendants were in their places ; and he 
even fancied there was an air of mystery in every 
countenance on which he looked. The two hideous 
dwarfs, who sat upon the lowest of the gilded steps 
which led to the apartment of the monarch, 
could scarcely repress a grin, and the Vizier 
shuddered, as he caught the bright black eye of 
one of the mutes who guarded the door, and 
fancied he read in it a history of the bowstring, 
and other deeds of darkness, in which these 
speechless guardians of the tyrant were not un- 
frequently employed. 

Summoning all his courage, he at last entered 
the presence of his sovereign. Having made three 
prostrations, he was about to embrace the feet of 
his master, when he was agreeably surprised by 
Mahomet covering them with the end of his 
robe, and extending to him the palm of his hand 
to kiss. This was a distinction seldom accorded to 
any but the mufti ; and the unexpected con- 
descension of the Sultan caused such a reaction in 
the feelings of the Vizier that he well nigh burst 
into tears. By a great effort, he contrived to offer 



5206 MELANTHE. 

the present which he had brought; and though 
Mahomet had never before departed from the 
singular and degrading custom by which the 
Sultan condescends to receive presents from all 
the courtiers who approach him, yet at this moment 
he seemed to have laid aside liis usual habits. 

" I do not wish to receive any gifts," he said 
kindly ; " I would much rather bestow some in 
return for good services. See, I had ordered these 
to be prepared ;"" and he pointed to a robe, lined 
with rich sables, and a magnificent sword, which 
lay upon a stool of silver at his feet. " I ask only, 
in return, a distinct answer to my question." 

" Your Majesty has only to ask — your faithful 
slave Calil will answer to the best of his ability." 

" How long will it be ere my troops are ready 
to march upon Constantinople ?" 

Struck by the extraordinary coincidence of this 
having been the very question, for the answer to 
which Elphenor had paid so high a price, Calil 
again began to tremble, as he replied : 

" The moment that my lord commands, his 
slaves are ready." 

" It is well," replied the Sultan ; " Constan- 



MELAXTHE. 207 

tinople must be mine. It is my only thought — 
my only wish. I pant — I burn to possess it. 
Look at that bed," he continued, as he pointed to 
the bed upon which the splendid coverings of 
crimson satin, worked with pearls, lay twisted and 
confused among the cushions and pillows. 

" Look at that bed ; all the night I have 
turned upon it, but without finding rest. Thus 
shall I be, until I have the Christian city in my 
possession.'" 

" Assuredly, the same God who has given a 
part will not deny to your Highness the remainder 
of the Roman empire," said Calil humbly. 

'' We have men, and we have arms — but the 
Romans have gold,'"* said the Sultan, who was now 
perfectly aware of the treachery of his Vizier, and 
only waited for fitting time and proof to bring him 
to punishment. 

" Your Highness may have sufficient to pur- 
chase more than one empire,'" said Calil, evasively, 
" if he call upon his faithful people. Myself, with 
the rest of his slaves, are ready to sacrifice our 
lives, as well as our fortunes." 

" Think you, if the people are called upon. 



MELANTHE. 

they will contribute much without the tax being 
enforced?" inquired the Sultan, pretending to 
accept the assurance of his minister. 

" Are not thy slaves true believers, and is not 
every Mussulman bound by his religion to march 
against the infidels ?" 

" A good thought, by the Prophet," exclaimed 
the Sultan. " We will call it a religious war, and 
the whole body of the people will rise — Dervishes, 
Muezzins, Imams, and all, will march to the taking 
of Constantinople, for taken it must be ! But say, 
has that Christian slave fulfilled his task .? Is the 
great cannon ready .?" 

" It was finished this day," replied the Vizier, en- 
chanted to find the conversation taking a new turn. 
" Yea, it is monstrous. I beheld the bullets weighed 
which are to be fired from it, and the weight of each 
was six hundred pounds. Thirty waggons, linked 
together, will scarcely hold it, and a team of sixty 
oxen will be required to draw it ; so says the slave 
who made it." 

" He shall have six hundred oxen, if he require 
it, so that it be safely planted before the walls of 
Constantinople. He said its force would batter 



MELANTHE. 209 

down walls thicker than those of Babylon. Let 
him look to it ; if his words are not fulfilled, he 
shall himself be shot from its mouth.^ 

" He will be in no hurry to rejoin his brethren,'' 
said Calil, anxious to appear unfriendly to the 
Christians ; " the beggarly slaves almost starved 
him while he was in their service." 

" By Allah ! they will have their just reward 
when his cannon thunders at their gates,*" cried 
Mahomet in delight. " But first, I myself will see 
it tried. Proclaim the day, lest any of the faithful 
should suffer, and I will go in state to see the trial, 
and from thence to the Mosque to offer up prayers 
for its success in this our holy undertaking. It is 
the cause of God and the Prophet ! Let the people 
be warned, and all contributions carefully collected 
— we shall need much gold.'' 

« My Lord shall be obeyed," said Calil. " But 
would it not be well," he added, hesitatingly, " if 
gold be really wanting, to make some small con- 
cession to the people's tastes ?" 

" Concession !" exclaimed the Sultan, haughtily. 

" May the Sultan of the universe pardon his 
slave," replied Calil, meekly bending his forehead 



210 MELANTHK. 

to the ground. " I presume not to advise ; but 
since the Mufti decided that the use of the newly- 
discovered berry, called coffee, was unlawful, the 
people have been discontented."" 

" The slaves ! do they dare to murmur ? — give 
them the bastinado till they submit," said Mahomet. 

" Assuredly, your Highness is right : yet, on the 
eve of a war, such a trifle as the drinking of coffee 
were scarce worthy a thought. Those who had 
built kiosks when it was drank are ruined, if the 
decree of the Mufti is adhered to ; the rest of the 
Ulemah^ however, differ from their chief, and say, 
as the grain is not consumed by the fire, but 
merely exposed to it, it cannot be unlawful.'" 

" Then let the people have liberty to drink it. 
You said it had been found by a holy man at 
Mecca ?"" observed the Sultan. 

" My Lord is right. A Dervish, banished to 
the mountain, found the grain, and soon it was in 
such repute, that not only was he recalled, but the 
highest honours were heaped upon him. If in that 
holy place it was deemed lawful, why should the 
faithful followers of the Prophet elsewhere, be 
denied its use ? I speak with humility — His High- 
ness must command." 



MELANTHE. 211 

" I do command, and from this hour it shall be 
law." 

So saying, the Sultan waved his hand, which was 
a signal that the audience was over; and Calil, 
making the customary obeisances, retreated from 
the royal presence ; not forgetting, however, to 
carry with him the splendid presents he had 
received from his master. 

The Vizier was in the highest spirits. Not only 
had he escaped all danger, but he had also con- 
trived to carry a point which was of the greatest 
importance to him, the permission of the Sultan 
for the general use of coffee in his dominions. It 
had only been lately discovered and introduced 
by two Arab Dervishes into Constantinople. The 
enthusiasm of the nation had risen to a pitch, only 
equalled in after-days by the discovery of tobacco; 
and yet such was the prejudice of the Turkish 
government against any innovation, that the Mufti 
had instantly denounced, as places of abomination, 
the kiosks, or houses, where the people assembled 
to drink of the new drug, which declaration had 
occasioned much discontent in the city. 

To Calil it had been a severe mortification, for 
unprepared for such an event, he had speculated 



212 MELANTHE. 

largely upon its success. Most of the kiosks 
had been secretly built through his means, and he 
had by his agents imported an immense quantity 
of coffee, which was bought at first with avidity, 
and which, even in those days, was made and drank 
exactly as is still the practice among the Turks* 
The Vizier retired to his apartment in the highest 
delight ; yet, little did he imagine that the wily 
monarch, whom he appeared to control, had long 
since been filled with distrust towards him, and 
merely appeared to seek his advice, in order not to 
allow any minor affair to interfere with the execu- 
tion of his grand design upon Constantinople. 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

Many days elapsed before Elphenor was able to 
rise from the bed of sickness to which the deep 
anxiety of his mind had consigned him. Faithful 
to his word, the Dervish, who had undertaken his 
cure, attended him with unremitting care ; and 
Demetrius, as he observed the solicitude which 
manifested itself involuntarily in the manner of the 
chief cook, whenever any change for the worse ap- 
peared to have taken place in his patient, felt almost 
ashamed to have ever harboured a doubt of the 
sincerity of his intentions. 

Demetrius, however, in the first flush of generous 
youth, judged every body by himself. The prac- 
tised eye of the cunning Dervish had at a glance 
detected that his visitors were of no ordinary rank : 
rudeness or neglect could not benefit him ; while 



214 MELANTHE. 

from their gratitude, a rich harvest might be 
reaped. The expressions of anxiety to resume 
their journey that constantly escaped the lips of 
both Elphenor and Demetrius, redoubled the hopes 
of gain which had filled the bosom of the Dervish ; 
and when, some days previous to that which he had 
named as the first upon which Elphenor would be 
able to mount his horse, he announced to his 
anxious guests, that no impediment to their depar- 
ture now existed, the substantial proofs of the 
gratitude on which he had calculated, left him 
no reason to regret the path he had pursued. 

It was with feelings of undisguised delight that 
the travellers once again resumed their journey. 
The horrors which Demetrius had witnessed within 
the walls of the Rufayis had left such an impression 
of loathing upon his mind, that he could not look 
upon the downcast eye and pallid face of a Dervish 
without a shudder ; and long after the white walls 
of this den of hypocrisy and fanaticism were hidden 
from his view, the eternal exclamations of " Yd 
Allah r and " Yd hou r by which the terrible 
silence of the tedious nights, during which he had 
watched by the couch of Elphenor, had been con- 



MELANTHE. 215 

stantly broken, seemed to ring again in his ear, 
and revive the hideous recollection of all that he 
had witnessed. 

The first care of Demetrius, on their arrival at 
the convent, had been to send forward some of 
the attendants with an account of their situation, 
which was to be laid before the Emperor ; but as 
they were still above eighty miles from Constanti- 
nople, and in a country where travelling was an 
operation of time and difficulty, it was not until 
they had entered upon the last day's journey that 
they were met by an officer, accompanied by the 
physician of Constantine, and an efficient guard, 
which had been sent by his orders for the succour 
and protection of Elphenor. Touched by the 
kindness which his sovereign manifested towards 
his person, Elphenor repressed the desire to hear 
some tidings of his wife and child, until he had 
questioned the officer as to the state of public 
opinion, with respect to the result of his mission 
to the Sultan. Having secretly dispatched to Con- 
stantine his own impression of the intentions of 
Mahomet, what was the dismay of Elphenor, when 
he learned that the whole city of Constantinople 
was one scene of joy and festivity. The result of 



216 MELANTHE. 

the conference between the Ambassador of the 
Emperor, and the Sultan, which had been declared 
to the public, had been announced in the most 
flowing and satisfactory terms ; and Constantine, 
eager to allay all apprehensions, in the mind of the 
people, and also to indulge his own unbounded 
love for show, extravagance, and amusement, had 
immediately given orders that the public games, 
which were celebrated at the expense of the crown, 
should take place in the Hippodrome. 

The enormous expense of these games rendered 
their celebration always a matter of doubtful policy; 
but, at this moment, with an almost exhausted 
treasury, it was absolute madness. Already the 
rejoicings had continued for several days, and were 
to terminate on the following one by a sham fight 
upon the Bosphorus, in which the whole of the naval 
force of the city was to be engaged. The waste 
of ammunition which this would occasion, was 
another proof to Elphenor of the fearful state of 
security in which it appeared Constantine had been 
plunged ; and with a heart oppressed with grief 
and dire forebodings of the future, Elphenor once 
more entered Constantinople, which presented, as his 
informant had too truly stated, a scene of rejoicing 



MELANTHE. 217 

and excess, little fitted to nerve the hearts of the 
inhabitants against approaching danger. 

It was late in the evening when the Ambassador 
crossed the Hippodrome ; yet enough remained to 
show the extravagance and profusion which had 
reigned there during the celebration of the games. 
The three brazen serpents still dripped with the 
wine which had copiously flowed from their 
open mouths ; and many a group passed, whose 
flower-crowned heads and noisy mirth proved them 
to have indulged freely in its use. Elphenor 
looked sadly upon them, as with joyous songs they 
escorted some victor in the games with due honour 
to his home. The lively Greek, and more sedate 
Roman, seemed equally imbued with a spirit of 
hilarity, which nothing could check ; and the loud 
laugh and careless jest resounded on all sides, too 
soon, alas ! to be exchanged for the voice of mourn- 
ing and lamentation. 

Sick at heart, Elphenor hurried on until he 
reached the Imperial palace, and having entered it, 
instantly sent to demand an audience of the Em- 
peror. The answer he received was an invitation 

VOL. I. L 



218 MELANTHE. 

to attend the banquet which was prepared, and he 
saw that any attempt at interference with the fes- 
tivities of the hour would be utterly useless. Nor 
was he more successful, when, having explained the 
weighty reasons by which he was actuated, he 
implored the Emperor to countermand the intended 
spectacle for the next day. 

Constantine, relieved by the insincere assurances 
of Mahomet, from fear of immediate danger, 
abandoned himself to a thoughtless gaiety ; and 
though his manner and expressions were of the 
most affectionate nature towards Elphenor, yet 
with the tenacity of a child he refused to give up 
his plans for the amusement of the following day, 
and treated lightly the important disclosures which 
were made to him by his Ambassador. All his 
former levity of character seemed to have returned 
to him with double force during the absence of 
Elphenor ; while the implicit faith which he placed 
in the protestations of the Sultan, was torture to 
the mind of one who knew the false spirit in which 
they had been made. But all remonstrance at that 
moment was vain, and excusing himself, on the plea 



i 



MELANTHE. 219 

of his recent illness, Elphenor declined accompany- 
ing the Emperor to the mimic war, resolving to 
devote the hours of the absence of the Court, to a 
visit to his wife and child, for whose presence his 
heart had so long languished. 



CHAPTER XIX. 

Gorgeous was the scene which the morning 
presented. All that Constantinople could boast 
of in wealth, beauty, or station, had assembled 
to do honour to the imperial invitation. The gilt 
and splendidly ornamented galley, which contained 
the Emperor and his immediate attendants, was 
the first that glided from the port, followed by 
numerous others, vying with each other in the 
magnificence of their decorations. 

Seated beneath an awning of pale green silk, the 
curtains of which were looped up with a fringe of 
gold, the handsome countenance of the young 
Emperor beamed with delight, as he beheld the 
universal joy that reigned around, and heard the 
glad shout of the multitudes who lined the shore, 
and who, frantic with pleasure at witnessing so 
gaudy a spectacle, rent the air with acclamations, 
and blessings upon their Prince. 



MELANTHE. 221 

The brilliant fleet moved slowly on towards the 
channel of the Bosphorus, where those vessels 
which were to enact the chief part in the day's 
amusement, had already anchored to await the 
arrival of the Emperor. The ships that were to 
attack, had preserved their usual appearance and 
colours ; while those on the opposite side had been 
made to resemble as closely as possible the vessels 
of the Mussulmen, so as to render the proceedings 
intelligible to the uninitiated part of the spectators. 
Soon the animated shouts of the seamen and the 
boom of the guns announced that the mimic war 
had begun ; and as Elphenor rode slowly along 
the banks of the strait, he could see, as the soft 
breezes wafted the smoke above, the sparkling 
of the gilded oars, and hear the bursts of music 
that swelled upon the air, as the infatuated Prince 
of a giddy and pleasure-loving people swept 
across the waves in search of new delight; like 
the summer fly, disporting itself in the noontide 
gleam, heedless of the cloud that is gathering 
above. 

With a sigh, Elphenor turned from the view, 
fixing his eyes fondly on the spot which contained 



MELANTHE. 

the one being to whom he had never looked in 
vain for consolation in the hour of anguish or of 
sorrow. Already he beheld the tops of the tall 
trees which crowned the hill above his dwelling ; 
and hastening his pace as much as the weakness of 
his state would permit, he was soon in view of the 
bay which bounded the gardens of the villa. What 
was his surprise, when, instead of the calm tran- 
quillity which generally reigned in that lovely 
spot, he perceived several persons hurrying to and 
fro upon the shore, and at a short distance were 
three large ships, which seemed to be riding at 
anchor in the bay ; whilst from the mast-head the 
banner of the Infidels waved in the air. 

At first, he imagined that they were some of the 
vessels which had been thus transformed, in order 
to play their part in the pageant of the day ; but 
he was soon undeceived by remarking that they 
differed materially in form from those used by the 
Romans. While musing upon their extraordinary 
appearance, Elphenor arrived at the entrance to 
the villa, andhad not proceeded far, ere he per- 
ceived, to his amazement, that the way was im- 
peded, so that it was impossible to advance. Two 



MELANTHE. 223 

lofty cedars, the growth of ages, lay prostrate upon 
the road, their giant arms stretching in every di- 
rection. With some difficulty Elphenor contrived 
to make a circuit through the wood which sur- 
rounded him ; but, upon emerging from beneath 
its shelter, a sight, rousing him to madness, burst 
upon him. On every side, the noblest of the trees, 
which in his solitude he had loved to contemplate, 
were felled to the earth. The pine and the oak, 
the cedar and the cypress, all lay prostrate together 
upon the soft sward, which here and there showed 
a portion of its enamelled breast, gleaming through 
the yet unwithered boughs which pressed it. 

Hastening forward, the scene of devastation every 
instant grew more fearful to the eye of Elphenor. 
Statues thrown from their pedestals, and marbles 
torn from the terraces, were trampled in confusion 
among the beds of bright flowers, which the pres- 
sure of many feet seemed to have almost trodden 
into the earth ; while at every unbroken patch of 
verdure, several of the small rugged Turkish horses, 
with the high peaked saddles common to their coun- 
try, were tethered to the beautiful magnolias and 
arbutus trees, which had escaped the general de- 
struction. 



224 MELANTHE. 

The fears of Elphenor grew too great for endu- 
rance. Quitting the more circuitous path, he 
spurred his horse up the steep bank which led to 
the house ; and throwing himself to the ground as 
he reached the portico, he would have entered, but 
the moment that he appeared, a score of turbaned 
heads protruded from the entrance, and the flashing 
of scimitars warned him not to approach. 

" What means this ? — who are ye ?" exclaimed 
he, speaking, in his agitation, in his own language. 
A deep silence followed ; and each Moslem figure 
which now filled the open space, might have been 
deemed one of stone, but for the fierce flashing of 
their dark eyes from beneath their sullen brows. 

Again Elphenor attempted to advance, and 
again the bright steel gleamed before his eyes. 

" For the love of heaven !"" he cried, now 
speaking in the Turkish tongue, " tell me where is 
my wife ? — where is my child ? If you are good 
Mussulmen, you would not wrong a helpless 
woman, nor take a child from its father. This is no 
time of war — we are friends — it was but yesterday 
I arrived from Adrianople, from the city of your 
Sultan, the great Mahomet. If you do me wron g 
he will avenge it. This house is mine — speak — 



J 



MELANTHE. 225 

where is my wife ? — my child ? — where are my 
servants ? — speak, I command you.'' 

Somewhat awed by the imperious gestures of 
Elphenor, and the mention of the Suhan, the sol- 
diers looked at each other; yet no answer was 
returned. 

" Where is my wife ^"^ again exclaimed Elphenor, 
in a tone of agony. 

Still no answering voice met his ear; but he 
fancied that he perceived the looks of the soldiers 
directed more particularly towards one of their 
number, and that a shade of apprehension passed 
over the countenance of the man. Without appear- 
ing to have observed it, Elphenor, with astonishing 
calmness, drew forth a well filled purse, and 
turning, as if to depart, observed, " It is the duty 
of a soldier to obey — doubtless, you have been 
commanded to be silent. I will seek your chief, 
and ask for justice at his hands. Let him but 
restore my wife and child, he shall have gold as 
much as he can desire." 

So saying, he left the spot, but not without 
having seen the same glance rapidly directed 
towards the soldier he had at first remarked, and 
L 5 



226 



MELANTHE. 



who seemed of a grade superior to his comrades. 
Distracted with apprehension, Elphenor hurried on 
he knew not whither, when, as he turned the brow 
of the hill, his fears assumed a still darker shade. 
The promontory on which he stood was literally 
covered by Mussulmen, not only soldiers, but arti- 
sans of every class appeared to have collected on 
the spot. The air resounded with blows of the 
axe, and already a considerable angle of the beau- 
tiful wood was levelled with the ground ; while 
others of the workmen were busily employed in 
tearing up the terraces, and hewing the most 
beautiful marbles into small pieces, some of which 
were already half consumed in the fires which had 
been kindled for the purpose of reducing them to 
lime. 

The truth at once struck upon the mind of 
Elphenor, and though, with a heart bursting with 
distress, his presence of mind did not forsake him. 
He knew too well the hatred towards a Christian, 
which is innate in every Moslem bosom, to venture 
an appeal to their kindness ; and assuming an air of 
carelessness, he approached a youth who was en- 
deavouring to fasten two unruly horses to a tree, 



MELANTHE. 227 

and offering to assist him, he said, " You will want 
better forage for these than can be found here — 
they seem starving." 

" They have had little enough since they left 
Gallipoli," returned the boy, sulkily ; " but they 
have had better fare than I have." 

" That is unjust,'' said Elphenor, as he put a 
piece of gold into the hand of the youth. " But 
for what purpose are all these men here ?" 

" They are going to build a castle for the Sul- 
tan. They only came last night, and see all 
they have cut down already !" 

" Who is your chief T asked Elphenor, who felt 
as if his senses were deserting him. 

" Zeid, the silversmith,'' as if every one did not 
know Zeid in Gallipoli. " He was a silversmith 
before he turned soldier. No chance of any gold 
from him ; he knows the value of it too well," said 
the boy, in a voice like the growl of a young 
mastiff. 

" And where is Zeid ?" inquired Elphenor, strug- 
gling to repress his anxiety. 

" Gone to see the show the Christians are making 
down there on the water," replied the boy, pointing 



MELANTHE. 

towards the straits ; " bat he is coming back now 
I see, and those lazy fellows asleep there will feel 

the bastinado, I dare say, if he catches them *" 

and with a scowl of delight at the probable fate of 
his companions, the young Mussulman set himself 
to work to collect the scattered fragments of wood 
and pile them up in heaps. 

Elphenor did not see what had suddenly caused 
the boy to quit the spot where he had been stand- 
ing. The eyes of the wretched husband were fixed 
upon the vessel which, he felt, contained the only 
person who would or could relieve his mind from 
the dreadful surmises with which it was oppressed. 
Hastening to the shore, he received the Mussulman 
chief as he landed, with as much show of respect 
as it was possible to counterfeit, at a moment when 
the devastation of his property was, in the eyes of 
Elphenor, the least of the evils he endured. But 
the Turks are a grave and ceremonious people, and 
any attempt at an assumption of authority he well 
knew would only have excited his scorn, and a 
o-leam of satisfaction from the consciousness of 
having it in his power to have injured a Christian. 

Zeid, the silversmith, as he was still called, from 



MELANTHE. 229 

the praiseworthy habit of the Turks, who not only 
do not try to conceal but openly proclaim the 
profession they have followed, was a tall thin man 
with a sharp face, and the eye of an eagle. He 
received the salutation of Elphenor graciously, 
placing his hand upon his breast, and, upon 
learning his name and situation, immediately pro- 
duced a firman from the Sultan, authorising him 
to take possession of the spot which he then occu- 
pied, in virtue of the treaty which had been signed 
by the Ambassador of the Emperor at Adrianople. 
His instructions further commanded that no bodily 
harm should be done to the inhabitants, unless 
they resisted, nor any money extorted from them. 

This specious show of generosity served to mark 
out the treachery of Mahomet, in the advantage he 
had taken of the very unwise permission of Con- 
stantine to select a spot upon his territory whereon 
to build a kiosk, or summer house, where he might 
enjoy the beauty of the scenery. 

Elphenor did not now pause to debate the justice 
of the case, but with franctic entreaties besought 
the Ottoman chief to restore his wife and child, 
offering at the same time any price he should name 



MELANTHE. 

as their ransom. The eyes of Zeid glistened as 
Elpenor spoke of gold, but fortunately they rested 
for a moment on the written document he held in 
his hand, and to disobey it openly, he well knew 
would cost him his head. Not having time to 
devise any scheme whereby he might secure the 
tempting bribe of the Greek, Zeid took the 
simple method of telling the truth, which was, that 
Ida with her child and servants were safe within 
the walls of the villa, and that on pain of severe 
punishment he had forbidden his soldiers to molest 
or hold communication with any of the Greeks 
until his return. 

As Elphenor listened to these words, his joy and 
gratitude were so vividly pourtrayed, that Zeid, 
who had little veneration for women, imagined the 
Christian was mad; and as insane people are re- 
garded by them with peculiar reverence, the 
malady being considered, by the Turks, a mark 
of the special favour of God, Zeid immediately 
redoubled his respect towards one whom he could 
not think in his senses, when he beheld his manly 
form and stern features trembling with emotion as 
he spoke of his wife, and tears fall fast from his 



MELANTHE. 231 

eyes on hearing of her safety. Zeid could have 
met or have parted with any. or all, of his four 
wives, without exhibiting the slightest emotion. 

Acceding to the entreaty of Elphenor, the Otto- 
man chief, not unmoved by curiosity, accompanied 
the Greek towards the house, assuring him, all the 
time, that he need not fear for his wife or servants, 
for that his soldiers were completely under his 
control. 

" Though I was a silversmith,'"* he exclaimed, as 
he strutted along the terrace in his flowing robes, 
" every one is aware of the talents of Zeid for war. 
His Highness the Sultan well knows I am to be 
trusted, and that none dare disobey my com- 
mands. Some day you will see Zeid a Pacha, with 
three tails planted before his tent, and nine led 
horses in front when he marches to battle/' So 
saying, ana swelling with importance as his mind 
revelled in visions of the honours of the Pacha, 
which are the secret hope of all Mussulmen soldiers, 
Zeid entered the house, his soldiers all drawing 
back, bending their heads, and laying their hands 
on their breasts. What was his dismay, and the 
agony of Elphenor, when, having traversed all the 



SS2 MELANTHE. 

apartments, neither Ida, nor the child, nor even one 
of the servants could be discovered. Furious at 
the exposure of such a breach of his boasted disci- 
pline, especially to Elphenor, Zeid rushed to the 
portico, and seizing the first soldier that he met, 
dealt him such a blow on the head that the man 
roared with pain. 

" Where are the Christian women?" shouted 
Zeid, as he shook the unfortunate soldier by the 
throat. " How is it that my orders are disobeyed ? 
Did I not command that the house should be 
guarded, and no one allowed to enter or pass out 
before my return?" 

" It was not my fault,"" stammered the man. 

" Peace, slave ! where are the women ? " cried 
Zeid, rendered more angry by the consciousness of 
his own error, in having left his post. 

" Produce them, or I will have your nose and 
ears cut off for disobedience." 

« Pity — spare me!" cried the man, sinking on 
his knees, '' I did not take the gold." 

" Gold — what gold?" asked Zeid, still more 
frantic at the idea that some one had fared better 
than himself. 



MELANTHE. 233 

All eyes were now turned to the man whom 
Elphenor had before observed as conspicuous 
among the soldiers, and who, perceiving that he had 
no chance of escape, fell on his knees before his 
chief, and confessed, that for a sum of gold which 
he now laid before Zeid, he had permitted the 
departure of the Christian women. 

" Slave! dog! beast! how did you dare to disobey 
my orders ? Take that — and that — " as he struck 
him with all his might with the handle of his sword 
across the face ; " and here," calling to some 
soldiers who were retiring gradually towards the 
outside of the portico, " Tie up this dog of a slave, 
and give him the bastinado, till the soles of his 
feet are laid bare." 

Shocked at this cruel order, Elphenor at- 
tempted to interfere, and so far succeeded in 
pacifying the wrath of Zeid, that he promised, on 
condition of his future good conduct, and the 
sacrifice of all the money he had received, to 
forgive the offence of the soldier. 

Satisfied with this assurance, Elphenor hastily 
took his leave ; but before he had reached the top 
of the hill, his heart sickened at the shrieks which 



234 MELANTHE. 

met his ear, showing the value a Mussulman 
smarting with wounded vanity attaches to a 
promise. Elphenor would willingly have returned 
to try and rescue a fellow-creature from torment, 
especially as his heart bled for the sufferings of one, 
by whose disobedience he himself had so deeply 
benefited ; but his knowledge of the duplicity of 
the nation forbade him to hope that Zeid the 
silversmith might offer an exception, and he, 
therefore, was compelled to abandon the unhappy 
wretch to his fate. Elphenor had not proceeded 
far, when he was met by some of his own servants, 
who informed him that his wife had taken refuge 
at the house of a neighbour. Thither, he im- 
mediately proceeded, and was soon clasped in 
the arms of Ida, who, with Melanthe, had been 
kindly received by her friend ; but Elphenor knew 
too well the dangers to which they might be 
exposed, by remaining at a distance from him, and 
before night he had removed these objects so 
precious to his heart, and they were safely lodged 
in the palace which the Emperor had bestowed 
upon him, within the walls of Constantinople. 



CHAPTER XX. 

The indignation of Constantine was unbounded 
upon receiving the intelligence which, on his 
return to the city, was immediately announced to 
him. The treacherous advantage which had been 
taken of his generosity deeply wounded the 
sensitive and noble heart of the Emperor; and 
almost with tears in his eyes, he acknowledged to 
Elphenor the truth of the predictions he had 
hitherto refused to believe. 

The example of his Grand Chamberlain was in 
itself sufficient to have excited a spirit of emulation 
in a mind less self-sacrificing than that of Con- 
stantine. The total destruction of his property, 
and the demolition of a dwelling rendered dear to 
him by so many associations, appeared less to 
affect the thoughts of Elphenor, than did the 
cruel baseness with which Mahomet had selected 
the spot, of which, during his visit to Adrianople, 



236 MELANTHE. 

Elphenor had been led, by the wily questions of 
the monarch, frequently to boast. 

The unflinching integrity of the Greek Ambas- 
sador, while it excited the surprise, had also en- 
gendered a deadly hatred in the bosom of 
Mahomet, who secretly winced beneath the gall- 
ing contrast an upright and honest policy pre- 
sented to his own crooked and perfidious ways. 
The malice of his heart was gratified by the injury 
which it was in his power to inflict upon one who 
had scorned his bribes with undisguised contempt, 
and he had instantly devised the scheme which 
now called forth the surprise and indignation of 
Constantine and all his people. 

But soon Elphenor was not the only sufi*erer. 
Every hour brought a fresh account of the devas- 
tation which the followers of Zeid, the silversmith, 
were causing in the neighbourhood of the spot 
upon which they had landed ; and before the next 
day a thousand masons, each with two attendants, 
disembarked from the Mussulmen ships which 
now crowded the straits. 

To each of these masons was assigned the task 
of completing two cubits per day ; and by the 



MELANTHE. 237 

immense quantities of materials which hourly 
arrived, it was plain, not only that the building 
was to be of large dimensions, but that it had been 
planned for a considerable time before-hand. Boats 
from Cataphrygia came loaded with lime ; others 
from Heraclea and Nicoraedia brought timber, 
ready seasoned; and large blocks of stone, which 
had been dug, and hewn into form in the quarries 
of Anatolia, were conveyed, with infinite toil, up 
the steep ascent of the shore. Europe and Asia 
seemed to have combined to produce, at a moment's 
warning, the necessary materials, as well as the 
artisans requisite to carry on the projected works. 

The only answer which Zeid would or could 
return to the inquiries of the Emperor, was a 
justification of himself, by pleading obedience to 
the Sultan, who had ordered him to erect, upon the 
European shore, a fortress similar to that by which 
the Asiatic side was defended. The policy of 
Mahomet was at once visible. By the erection of 
this castle he would secure to himself the Black 
Sea, and cut off from that side all communication 
with Constantinople. In a few hours, between four 
and five thousand persons had collected upon the 
promontory. 



S38 MELANTHE. 

To have seized their ships, and put the people 
to the sword, would have been the work of a day 
to Constantine, and might have operated as an 
effectual check to the audacity of Mahomet. By 
gaining time, the Greek empire might yet have 
acquired strength; but Constantine, whose sense 
of honour, under the circumstances, was, perhaps, 
scarcely justifiable, forbade the sacrifice of so many 
lives in a time of nominal peace, and resolved once 
more to try the effect of remonstrance. 

A message to the Sultan was resolved upon, but 
no longer one of conciliation or friendship. The 
spirit of Constantine was roused, and with his own 
hand he wrote a letter to Mahomet, complaining 
of the violation of good faith which the erection of 
a castle upon the Greek territory embodied, and 
demanding the withdrawal of the troops and work- 
men occupying the ground. 

The bearer of this letter was Demetrius of 
Ypsara, who had volunteered to fulfil a mission 
which, in the present disposition of the Sultan, 
could not be otherwise than an undertaking of 
extreme danger. Perhaps some latent hope of 
once again seeing Chezme might have mingled 



MELANTHE. 239 

with the spirit of enthusiasm with which the breast 
of Demetrius glowed towards his sovereign. 

In this hope, however, he was disappointed ; and 
even when he stood before her father, the Grand 
Vizier, he did not venture to pronounce the name 
that trembled upon his lips. 

The answer of the Sultan was such as realized 
the worst fears of Demetrius. Having carefully 
read the letter, he turned upon the young Greek 
a countenance beaming with anger. 

" Tell your master," he said, " that he will 
soon learn that Asia is inhabited by the Turks, 
and Europe is deserted by the Romans. The 
empire of Constantinople is bounded by her walls 
— the ground I have taken is my own, and mine 
it shall remain. The castle I have ordered to be 
built is the fulfilment of a vow, made by my 
father ; and it shall be fulfilled. That castle shall 
rear its head aloft long after the stones of the 
Greek city, like the power of its Emperor, have 
crumbled into dust before the armsof Mahomet. You 
have head my words — they shall be accomplished.'" 

" Hear, then, the answer which His Majesty the 
Emperor of the Greeks has commanded me to 



240 MELANTHE. 

deliver,"*' said Demetrius, boldly. " Since neither 
faith, nor submission, nor friendship have weight 
with one who regards them not, let him pursue 
his impious course. My trust is in God I To the 
last drop of my blood I will defend my city and 
my people! Let Him who is judge of all decide 
between us."" 

" 'Tis well,'' exclaimed Mahomet, rising in 
anger, though really not ill pleased at these hostile 
words. " Return to your Emperor, and tell him 
the fate that he covets, soon shall be his. — Ere he 
can look around him, I will be at his gates. He 
knows not the Sultan of the Ottomans, if he 
thinks he resembles his predecessors. Tell him 
that I will do in a day more than they would have 
thought of in years. Return this once in safety ; 
but should another messenger arrive, to attempt 
to appease my fury, he shall be flayed alive.'"* 

With these words Mahomet broke up the 
audience ; and Demetrius once more departed from 
Adrianople, without having been able to learn 
anything of the fate of Chezme. He had endea- 
voured to make some inquiries, but was every 
where met by the stupid indifference which the 



MELANTHE. 241 

Turks commonly manifest upon any subject not 
immediately concerning themselves. Full of sor- 
row for the probable danger to which her aban- 
donment of her home must have exposed her, 
Demetrius returned, sad and weary, to Constan- 
tinople. 



VOL. I. 



CHAPTER XXI. 

The mask was now thrown aside, and the answer 
of the Sultan left no doubt as to the course which 
Constantine ought to pursue. Messengers were 
immediately dispatched to all the allied powers, 
craving their immediate assistance. The Pope, 
alarmed at the turn the affairs of the empire had 
taken, condescended to accede to the oft-repeated 
prayer of Constantine ; and the Cardinal Isidore of 
Russia, with a superb retinue of priests and soldiers, 
soon afterwards arrived in Constantinople. 

The very means which had been devised to secure 
the protection of the Holy See, militated against the 
general good of the empire. The arrival of the 
Cardinal was the signal for the revival of religious 
prejudices; but the Emperor, true to his promise, 
and supported by the opinion of Elphenor and the 
ablest of his councillors, immediately announced 
his intention of carrying into effect the union of the 



MELANTHE. 243 

churches. That every one might understand the 
minute points of difference between the forms of 
worship, sermons were publicly preached in various 
parts of the city, and priests went about expound- 
ing to the people the necessary information. Many 
conformed at once to the rites of the Azymites, as 
the Roman priests were called ; but the great mass 
of the citizens listened in sullen silence, unable to 
confute the arguments they heard, though inwardly 
chafing against this innovation upon their religion. 

As time pressed, however, at last the decree of 
the Emperor went forth ; the l^th of December, 
1452, was fixed for the signing of the Act of Union, 
as it had been ratified in the Council of Florence ; 
and in the church of St. Sophia, the two nations 
were summoned to join in the communion of sacri- 
fice and prayer. 

On the morning of the appointed day, the city 
presented one mass of human beings; some hurrying 
to the church, with hearts full of zeal and devotion; 
others, stimulated by curiosity, though the greatest 
portion of the Greeks who attended, were actuated 
by a dislike of acknowledging the superiority 
of the Latin church, rather than by a feeling of 



244 MELANTHE. 

repugnance to its form of worship. The spirit of 
discontent was at its height. The Greeks, as they 
entered the church, kept close together; and, as 
the service proceeded, they studiously avoided ac- 
ceding to what had been commanded, namely, that 
all should openly join in prayer. The ostensible 
excuse was, their ignorance of the language in 
which the service was conducted, while in reality 
they burned with envy on beholding the splendours 
of the high mass, which was celebrated by the 
Cardinal himself, attended by his retinue, dressed 
in their richest habits. The names of Nicholas 
v., and Gregory, the exiled Patriarch of the 
Greeks, resounded together in a solemn chaunt 
from the altar ; but even this failed to arouse any 
warmth of feeling in the congregation, and, mur- 
muring and quarrelling, even the conforming 
Greeks departed from the church. 

" Holy Virgin !'' exclaimed one, who appeared 
peculiarly out of humour, " there will be no 
living in the city for us now." 

" These Romans were proud enough before,'' 
said another, who was a tailor ; " but I warrant 
me, now they have got their grand Legate, with all 



MELANTHE. 245 

his bedizened followers, they will hold their heads 
a little higher. I dare say not one of them will 
condescend to wear one of my mantles now ; all 
their embroidery must come from Rome, I sup- 
pose." 

" Well, any day I can show them better brocade 
than their grand priests swept up the aisle in 
to-day," said a little man, who was a silk weaver. 
*' Ah ! they'll be obliged to come to us, after all.'' 

" It is not exactly the gain I mean," replied the 
tailor. " Thank heaven, I am above that ; but to 
think of the audacity of those accursed Azymites, 
daring to dispense with adding warm water to the 
wine for the Holy Sacrament.*' 

" All that I would pass over, in charity to their 
ignorance," said another; but, Holy Mother of God ! 
to think that our infant children are to be debarred 
from receiving the sacrament, is a heavy sin." 

" What do the Azymites care if our children 
perish body and soul .?" answered his neighbour. 
" There will be the more room for the proud 
Romans; but, at least, they need not call this new- 
fangled tyranny religion." 

" It is scandalous," observed a demure-looking 



246 MELANTHE. 

personage, who had been listening for some time to 
the murmurs of the crowd, and was an itinerant 
preacher. " I have done my best to expose the 
fallacy of the Azymite creed. I have studied by 
night, and toiled by day ; but, ye deluded men, ye 
would not hear me."" 

" Hear you !" exclaimed a young man, with a 
merry face, who stood by. " Why, we should 
have enough to do, if we listened to all you say. 
I'm for Saint Gennadius, who never talks for more 
than five minutes at a time.'' 

" Gennadius ! Gennadius !" immediately echoed 
several voices. " Let us go to the holy man ; he 
will soon tell us what we are to do, and whether 
this grand Legate and his Romans are to trample 
us and our religion under foot."" 

" Yes; to Gennadius, let us go," shouted the 
multitude ; and in a body they rushed to the cell 
of the monk ; but he, foreseeing, probably, what 
would happen, had taken the wise precaution of 
securing his door inside. As none presumed to 
intrude upon the privacy of the anchorite, the 
foremost of the crowd, which was chiefly composed 
of artisans, stood aghast at the discovery. 



MELANTHE. 247 

*' Here is a tablet,'' cried the preacher, seizing 
with avidity a written piece of parchment, which 
hung outside. 

" Read it then," exclaimed the young man who 
appeared to hold the oratorical powers of the 
preacher in great contempt ; " at all events, it will 
be better than one of your sermons."' 

So saying, he took off his cap with an air of 
respect, and his example being followed by the 
whole multitude, the preacher roared out, with 
stentorian lungs — " Oh miserable and degraded 
Greeks ! why will ye abandon the religion of your 
fathers, and trust in the Italians ? The sword of the 
Infidel is above your heads ! Faith alone will save 
you. Pause, and repent. For me, may the Lord 
have mercy on me ! I am innocent of the crime." 

A deep silence followed the reading of these 
words, which at last broke into a low murmur, 
and then swelling gradually, as the people gained 
courage from the looks and whispers of their 
neighbours, it burst in one wild shout of triumph 
and defiance. 

" We were right; we were right, after all. Away 
with the Azymites, holy Gennadius for us!" ex- 
claimed a loud voice from among the crowd, while 



248 MELANTHE. 

the rest took up the cry, and the name of " Gen- 
nadius" rent the air. 

" How say you, my friends?" asked a fat httle 
man, a wine-seller, as soon as silence was in some 
degree restored. " Shall we drink a cup in honour 
of the Holy Virgin, and confusion to the Azymites ?" 
" Yes, yes!" shouted the multitude. " Away with 
the cardinal. Away with the Azymites — we want 
no new religion here ;" and, singing and shouting, 
they threw up their caps in the air, and turned to 
celebrate their triumph, towards the quarter of the 
city where the wine-seller lived. 

This was the commencement of the schism, which 
spread like an epidemic through the town. The 
fumes of intoxication aided the frenzy of the 
zealots ; and the Greek priests, through the medium 
of the confessional, continued to fan the flame. All 
who had received the communion, or even listened 
to the prayers of a Romish priest, were condemned 
to a rigorous penance. The church of St. Sophia was 
denounced as polluted, and avoided by the benighted 
fanatics with as much religious horror, as a Jewish 
synagogue, or Heathen temple, and the name of 
Azymite became the foulest of stigmas. 

This reliffious mania was fatal to the cause of 



MELANTHE. 249 

the Greeks. Dastardly by nature, their meanness 
found an excuse in their devotion, to dispense with 
their duty to their country ; and to separate them- 
selves from an Emperor who had dared to execute 
so impious a plan, appeared to their excited minds 
a praiseworthy determination. Preachers went 
about inflaming the zeal of the lukewarm, by 
promising a supernatural deliverance, and exciting 
a blind spirit of resignation, till scarcely a Greek 
of the middle or lower classes remained untinged 
by the contagion. 

In such a state of things was the first appeal 
made by the Emperor to his people. All those 
capable of bearing arms were invited to assemble 
in the open space of the Hippodrome, and to enrol 
their names in defence of their country. A day 
was appointed for the ceremony ; and Constantine, 
in whom the treachery of the Sultan had aroused 
the spirit of a hero, rode forth, surrounded by a 
brilliant train of officers and courtiers, and ad- 
dressed the multitude. 

" Citizens and friends,'"* said he ; " you have 
heard how the Infidel Turk has dared to insult 
you. He has sworn to level your city with the 
M 5 



250 MELANTHE. 

dust, and to sell your children for slaves. Will 
ye bend your necks to the yoke ? Shall the tread 
of the Moslem pollute the hearth of the Christian ? 
Citizens ! your sovereign calls upon you to arise ; 
not only for his honour, but for your liberty and 
your lives ! Arise ! and be firm ; be faithful, and 
Mahomet shall rue the day when he dared to 
boast that the Crescent should gleam where the 
Roman Eagle had died.'' 

These words were received with a burst of accla- 
mation. The volatile multitude, always easily 
excited by any display of spirit, and delighted 
with the show and splendour by which their 
Emperor was distinguished, forgot for the time 
their religious differences ; and, as he rode round 
the vast arena, graciously acknowledging the cheers 
and blessings which, especially by the women, were 
lavished upon him, he indulged in the delusion 
that he possessed the affections of a devoted and 
enthusiastic people. It generally happens that 
those whose demonstrations of attachment are the 
most noisy, are also the most backward in offer- 
ing their service in any time of danger ; and ere 
long the buoyant spirit of the young Emperor was 



MELANTHE. 251 

chilled by the discovery that the number of those 
who volunteered in his defence was comparatively 
trifling. 

Elphenor, whose observing eye had noted the 
symptoms of disaffection, even in the midst of the 
shouting crowd, had wisely suppressed the publica- 
tion of a fact that would have at once carried 
despair to the hearts of the faithful adherents of 
the Emperor. 

The Greeks almost unanimously refrained from 
entering their names upon the lists. The popula- 
tion of the city was estimated at above a hundred 
thousand inhabtitants ; and yet, to the consterna- 
tion of the Emperor, he was secretly informed by 
Elphenor that four thousand nine hundred and 
seventy Romans were the only really efficient 
soldiers within the walls. The report was scarcely 
credible, but the fact was indisputable ; and tears of 
shame and mortification burst from the eyes of the 
young monarch at this proof of the spiritless and 
cowardly nature of the subjects whom he had 
loved and trusted. Deserted at home, it became 
more than ever necessary to secure the intervention 
of foreign aid ; and princely offers and promises 



S5S MELANTHE. 

were made to the bands of mercenary troops by 
which Europe was then overrun, and who were 
always ready to sell their services to the highest 
bidder. Yet this accession would be comparatively 
trifling, considering the overwhelming numbers of 
the enemy ; and the situation of the city of Con- 
tan tinople became every hour more precarious. 

All that could be devised by the activity and 
energy of Elphenor and a trusty band of adherents, 
was willingly executed by Constantine, who de- 
voted himself, day and night, to the duties which 
devolved upon him, of the importance of which he 
seemed aware, alas ! only when it was too late ! He 
caused the fortifications of the city to be repaired 
and strengthened ; and every ship which arrived 
for the purposes of trade,- was detained to augment 
his means of defence. The naval force of the 
Mussulmen was inferior to that of the Christians, 
though in numbers far surpassing it ; and Con- 
stantine felt hope revive in his bosom as he beheld 
the beautiful waters of the Golden Horn, crowded 
with his ships, and defended by a strong chain, 
which, drawn across the mouth of the harbour, 
seemed to bid defiance to any attempt of the enemy. 



CHAPTER XXII. 

A FEW weeks had elapsed, and the alarm which 
the preparations of the Emperor had excited began 
to subside, when the startling intelligence was 
received that the Sultan had quitted Adrianople, 
and was advancing, at the head of his army, towards 
the city. The vanguard had already taken pos- 
session of several small towns and villages on the 
Black Sea, belonging to the Greeks ; and the fall 
of Selybria, which alone had dared to resist the 
summons of the Moslem, and was in consequence 
speedily reduced to ashes, spread terror and deso- 
lation around. The panic was increased by the 
unbridled licence with which the news of the 
advance of the Sultan inspired the followers of 
Zeid, the silversmith, who hitherto had restrained 
them within bounds. 

The fortress was now completed ; and of the 
beautiful villa of Elphenor not a vestige remained, 



254 MELANTHE. 

except a few of the largest trees, which, being 
sufficiently removed from the shore not to offer 
any impediment to the progress of their work, the 
Mussulmen, yielding to their national reverence 
for such objects, had contrived to rescue from the 
general wreck. Of the buildings, terraces, and 
statues, not a trace was left ; and some marble 
being required to complete the interior of the 
castle, the Turks without scruple had seized upon 
the neighbouring churches and convents, and torn 
down the pillars of porphyry, consecrated to St. 
Michael the archangel, which were held in peculiar 
veneration by the Greeks. 

This roused the anger of the latter, who, falling 
upon the Mussulmen, endeavoured to wrest from 
them the prize they had seized : but the attempt 
was vain ; the Christians were defeated ; and those 
who escaped the slaughter took refuge within the 
walls of Constantinople, carrying with them the 
most exaggerated account of their defeat. The 
city was in an uproar, and some of the most dis- 
contented publicly accused their Emperor of tamely 
submitting to see his subjects butchered by the 
Turks. 



MELANTHE. 255 

Constantine, who knew that his only chance of 
safety lay in the perfect unity of spirit of those 
who surrounded him, instantly came to a determi- 
nation, which he hoped would be the means of 
separating the disaffected from those who remained 
true to him. He issued an ordinance that for 
three days the gates of the city should remam 
open, and that all who chose to depart were at 
liberty to do so. From a neighbouring tower 
Elphenor anxiously watched the effect of this pro- 
clamation, and beheld with grief and indignation a 
base crowd, amongst whom were many of the prin- 
cipal Greeks, bending their coward steps beyond 
the reach of danger. Sadly he gazed upon these 
degenerate sons of a noble race ; and turning to 
Ida, who was standing by his side, exclaimed, as he 
beheld the scorn which flashed from her eye as she 
marked the caitiff crowd hurrying from the gate, 
" Unhappy country !" 

" Unhappy indeed,"" replied Ida, " when a wo- 
man's cheek must blush to call it her's. A land of 
cowards and of slaves ! See, see how they rush 
forward, as though the Moslem cannon were planted 
on our walls. Shame, shame upon them all !'^ 



^56 ItlELANTHE. 

" And yet," said Elphenor sadly, " could I but 
persuade thee, thou, too, shouldst be amongst them. 
Consider, Ida, my beloved, this is no place for 
thee !" 

" Yes, yes," interrupted Ida, " my place is by 
thy side. In danger as in joy, it is my place, and 
none shall tear from me the precious right. Nay, 
do not speak,'' she continued, seeing that Elphenor 
was about to remonstrate, " I know there is danger 
— but to part were death." 

" There may be a danger still worse than death," 
said Elphenor, hesitatingly, as he strained the 
clasping form of Ida to his breast. 

" None," replied Ida, in a low voice, as she half 
withdrew from its sheath a poniard she carried in 
her vest ; " none, for her who never forgets she 
bears the holy name of wife." 

" My blessed Ida," exclaimed Elphenor, in a 
voice of anguish, as his mind trembled before the 
allusion these words conveyed. " Be advised, there 
is yet time ; consider our child — our Melanthe." 

" I have considered all," said Ida, hastily; " I 
will not leave you." 

" Then be it so," answered Elphenor, solemnly ; 



I 



MELANTHE. 257 

" and thou, O Holy God ! watch over and pro- 
tect her r 

With these words, he laid his hand on the bowed 
head of his beautiful wife, and both seemed for a 
time to breathe a secret prayer ; but neither prayed 
for themselves. 

On the fourth day, the gates of the city were 
closed. Every hour now brought fresh causes of 
alarm; but soon all doubt was dispelled. The 
Sultan was scarcely five miles distant from the 
city. The rapidity of his approach was appalling. 
Consternation filled all hearts, and sentinels were 
appointed at both sides of the town to give notice 
of the first appearance of the foe, or the still ex- 
pected succours which had been promised by the 
allies. Long did the anxious watchers strain their 
eyes over the blue waters of the Bosphorus — no 
friendly vessels greeted their longing gaze ; while 
on the side of the land, symptoms of an approaching 
army were but too visible ; and ere the hour of 
noon had passed, on the 6th day of the month of 
April, the crescent of the Infidels glittered on the 
hills, and Mahomet encamped before the walls of 
Constantinople. 



258 MELANTHE. 

The land side on the base of the triangle, which 
the city forms, was the quarter chosen for the 
attack ; the other two sides being defended, the one 
by the Golden Horn, and the other by the steep 
shore of the Propontis, not affording to the Moslem 
any chance of success. 

The city was fortified towards the land by a 
treble wall of enormous thickness, extending to the 
length of six miles, and separated from the enemy 
by a deep ditch a hundred feet in breadth. The 
wall was defended by numerous towers, built at 
irregular distances. Towers also flanked the gates, 
before the principal of which, St. Romanus, Ma- 
homet had planted the standard of the Prophet. 

The first attack produced little effect, and after 
a few days, the Sultan, impatient at the slowness of 
his progress, resolved to change his plan of opera- 
tions. He directed the chief part of his force to be 
concentrated before the gate of St. Romanus, and 
gave orders that the towers by which it was 
guarded, should be battered to the ground. The 
monstrous cannon, which had been dragged with 
infinite toil from Adrianople, was planted opposite, 
flanked by two others of scarcely smaller dimen- 



MELANTHE. 259 

sions ; while fourteen batteries opened at once upon 
every point which appeared accessible. The whole 
force of the Turkish artillery thundered upon the 
walls, and the union of the ancient with the modern 
system of attack, added still more to the horrors of 
the scene ! Streams of the liquid and unquench- 
able fire, then so much in use, mingled with stones 
and darts, rained upon the city; while from the 
walls the brave Constantine, with a devoted band 
of followers, poured down upon his assailants a 
shower of lances and arrows, accompanied by an 
incessant discharge of small arms ; their musketry 
being so contrived as to fire ten bullets at a time, 
carried no small havoc into the foremost ranks of 
the Ottomans. 

Unmindful of the danger, Constantine, whose 
heroic courage seemed to gather strength every 
moment, undertook the defence of the outward 
wall ; and when the din of battle no longer allowed 
his voice to be heard, by his gestures he encouraged 
his soldiers, who seconded him with undaunted 
spirit. A furious sally was made by the besieged, 
and so unexpected was the movement, that in an 
instant hundreds of the assailants lay dead within 



2(i0 MELANTHE. 

the ditch ; and the Christians, under cover of a well 
directed fire from the walls, retreated without much 
loss, carrying off a great number of prisoners. 

This first success raised the hopes and courage 
of those within the city, more than it had damped 
the ardour of the besiegers ; but Mahomet did not 
view this slight repulse with as much calmness as 
his generals, and the superior discipline of the 
Christians stung him to the quick. He imme- 
diately ordered the formation of trenches, and en- 
deavoured to institute a more systematic plan of 
attack than had at first been pursued, thus endea- 
vouring to remedy the terrible confusion and in- 
subordination of his Ottoman troops. 

But the training of an army is not the work of 
a day, and on every side the genius of the Sultan 
was thwarted by the ignorance, and want of dis- 
cipline of his followers. Though abundantly 
supplied with ammunition, it soon became appa- 
rent that the Turkish artillery produced little 
effect. In a paroxysm of fury, Mahomet ordered 
the engineers to be stoned through the camp, and 
others to be brought to supply their places ; this, 
however, was not productive of better success. 



MELANTHE. 261 

The art was yet in its infancy, and the talent of 
the Sultan could not supply the place of practical 
knowledge. At length, in despair, he proclaimed 
that a reward of a hundred ducats should be given 
to him who would undertake to direct the fire 
effectually. Many presented themselves, and to 
the shame of Christianity, Andebert of Saxony, a 
Christian warrior, who had taken service with the 
Moslems, was the successful candidate, who scru- 
pled not to use his experience against his brethren. 
He immediately assumed the command of the 
engineers ; and Mahomet, whose mind was far 
above the prejudices of his nation, beheld with joy 
the crest-fallen air of his officers, as they sullenly 
witnessed the superior science of a stranger. Un- 
der his able guidance, every shot now told upon 
the angle of the tower ; and soon the crumbling of 
the outer wall gave token that the ancient struc- 
ture began to yield. Elated by his success, 
Mahomet resolved upon a still nearer approach ; 
and ordering an immense number of waggons, 
hogsheads, trunks of trees, and every thing that 
could be collected, to be placed at the edge of 
the ditch, at a given signal the whole of the mass 



262 MELANTHE. 

was forced into it, by the united strength of 
thousands ; and such was the barbarity with which 
the workmen were urged to an effort almost 
beyond the strength of man, that many were 
thrown head foremost beneath the rolling weight, 
and crushed to atoms. The power of numbers 
triumphed, and before nightfall, a firm footing was 
obtained where before a yawning abyss alone had 
been visible. 

Satisfied with their day's work, the Ottomans 
retired to their camp — the firing from the city 
had ceased, and each party seemed to await the 
return of day to renew the combat; but Constan- 
tine, ever watchful, had not quitted his post upon 
the walls, and taking advantage of the darkness 
and storm which had arisen, in the dead of the 
night he collected all his forces, and sallying forth 
from each of the gates, before sunrise he had 
contrived to draw the greater part of the rubbish 
with which the ditch had been piled, within the 
walls. 

The next morning the whole Ottoman army was 
stupified with surprise; but Mahomet, whose fury 
against the Christians rekindled at every repulse, 



MELANTHE. 263 

swore with a fearful oath that the chasm should be 
refilled before night, or that he would march across 
the ditch over the bodies of his men. 

A despot seldom threatens in vain. By unpa- 
ralleled efforts, his orders were obeyed, but only to 
be again counteracted by the resources of the active 
Emperor; and at length, worn out by the little 
progress he seemed to make, Mahomet suddenly 
abandoned his mode of attack, and keeping up a 
sufficient fire to engage the attention of the besieged, 
he employed an immense body of troops to under- 
mine the city. 

Concealed by the whole force of the Janissaries, 
who occupied the post nearest the ditch, the miners 
advanced steadily until within a short distance of 
the walls, when they found a stratum of rock of 
such hardness, that it was almost impossible to cut 
through it. This was an obstacle which their 
want of skill did not enable them to overcome; 
and, in fear and trembling, the Vizier repaired to 
the pavilion of the Sultan, to inform him of the ill 
success of their endeavours. 

Calil Pacha found the tent empty, and Mahomet 
so deeply engaged in a scheme, that for some time 



■ i 



264 MELANTHE. 

had engaged his attention, that for the moment 
the alarm of the Vizier subsided. In the midst 
of an open space in the camp, the Sultan, on 
horseback, was himself directing the construction 
of a machine, such as never before had been used 
by the Turks. An enormous tower of wood, with 
a flat top, stood upon rollers of a gigantic size. 
The outside was covered with a thick coating of 
hides, in order to protect it from fire. Inside there 
was a staircase, and various loopholes ; the stairs con- 
ducted to a platform upon the top, where a machine, 
worked from within, raised a broad ladder to the 
same level ; thus forming a sort of bridge, which 
could be thrown across in the course of a few 
minutes, whenever a favourable opportunity offered 
to approach the walls of the city. This tower was 
the invention of Mahomet himself, and nothing 
could exceed the consternation with which it filled 
the Greeks as they beheld it gradually lowered by a 
thousand puUies from the opposite side of the ditch. 
With a solemn awe they gazed upon the almost 
supernatural structure, which advanced inch by 
inch, creaking and tottering, until it rested exactly 
opposite the gate of St. Romanus. The walls were 



MELANTHE. 265 

crowded with spectators, and Constantine, with his 
brilliant staff, occupied his usual post. The heart 
of the Emperor sickened, as he beheld this new 
device, which he well knew would increase in his 
people the apprehension which he had in vain 
striven to subdue. Suddenly he laid his hand 
upon the arm of Demetrius, who stood next to 
him, while, with a gesture, he imposed silence 
upon all around, and every eye followed the direc- 
tion of the anxious glance of their sovereign. 

From one of the upper loopholes, which had 
been left in the sides of the machine, in order to 
admit the light, a small M'hite flag was hastily 
waved, and as hastily withdrawn. 1'his was re- 
peated several times, and then from above the 
coping of the platform, upon the top, a turbaned 
head was seen peering cautiously around, and a 
face, too well known in Constantinople for the 
honour of him in whose service it had visited the 
camp of the enemy, appeared. It was that of 
Hassan, the Janissary, who had been the confiden- 
tial servant of Calil Pacha. One moment of stead- 
fast gaze upon the walls, the next a bow was raised, 
and as the head of Hassan sunk behind the coping, 
an arrow dropped at the feet of the Emperor. 

VOL. I. N 



^66 MELANTHE. 

Demetrius sprung forward, and, picking it up, 
presented it to Constantine, who hastily untied and 
examined the letter which was bound around it ; then 
summoning Elphenor to his side, a few moments 
of consultation took place, before the secret was 
imparted to Demetrius. 

" This scroll,'"* said Constantine, addressing him, 
" informs us, that within that tower is a friend who 
would serve us. To rescue him, upon the first 
attempt of the enemy to scale the walls, will be a 
service of danger, if not of death ! Demetrius, this 
honourable post is your's ;" and the Emperor gave 
the scroll into the hand of his faithful friend. 

One instant the young Greek knelt before his 
sovereign ; in another he had quitted the spot ; 
and, with a trusty band of soldiers, he pro- 
ceeded, in accordance with the directions con- 
tained in the paper, to take his station upon 
the outer wall, directly in front of the wooden 
tower. A single shot was heard — then another, 
and another — and the next moment a sharp firing 
from the turret announced that the combat had 
begun. The cheers of the Janissaries on the oppo- 
site side of the ditch, — the shouts of " Allah ! 
Allah !" repeated by thousands of voices — the sharp 



MEL A^ THE. 267 

report of the matchlocks, and the sullen boom of 
the guns, as an incessant fire was kept up upon the 
walls, on either side of the tower, rendered it 
almost impossible to distinguish any lesser sound. 

Demetrius, who with undaunted courage continued 
to maintain his perilous situation, now feared that 
something had occurred to mar the execution of 
the proposed plan, when once again the pulhes 
of the tower began to creak, and the ladder was 
slowly raised towards the walls. The intense 
anxiety with which Demetrius watched the progress 
of the unwieldy machine as at one moment it reared 
its head, and the next seemed to totter under the 
weight of the stones which were hurled upon it 

from thecity, caused him to doubt the policy 
of having entrusted the secret to so few of the 
besieged. Soon, however, he was relieved from his 
worst fears. The ladder was firmly planted against 
the wall, and the first form that bounded across 
it, was that of Hassan. A score of Jannissaries, 
stimulated by the hope of the immense reward 
offered by Mahomet to those who should effect an 
entrance, rushed upon his steps, and, with deafening 
shouts of '^ Allah! Allah!" endeavoured to beat 



268 MELANTHE. 

back the first opponents they encountered, in order 
to afford a free passage to their own supporters. 

The soldiers of Demetrius, acting from the 
orders they had received, allowed Hassan to 
separate himself from his companions, against whom 
their well-directed fury told so effectually, that 
they were completely repulsed ; and the ladder 
having given way under the accumulated weight of 
those who pressed onwards to support them, they 
were precipitated into the ditch. 

Meanwhile, the escape of Hassan had not been 
attended with the complete success a device so 
bold, might have warranted, and struck down b}^ a 
bolt from a cross-bow, he had fallen within the 
walls. But his wound, though severe, was not 
dangerous, and he soon recovered sufficiently to be 
carried before the Emperor. During his interview, 
which lasted a considerable time, he disclosed to 
Constantine the plan which he had laid, and by 
which the tower, and all that it contained, could be 
reduced to ashes. 

In the bottom of the machine was a magazine 
filled with powder ; and Hassan having contrived, 
during the night, to secrete himself among the bags 



MELANTHE. 269 

which contamed it, had opened the lower part of 
several, and by boring small holes through the 
boarding, had secured tlie means of effecting instant 
ignition. 

" And what motive can you have in thus be- 
traying your sovereign ?'"' inquired Constantine, 
half doubtful of the sincerity of purpose with 
which this extraordinary disclosure was made. 

" Revenge !'"* answered Hassan, while his black 
eyes rolled hideously, and every feature was dis- 
torted with rage. 

" He has seized upon my daughter — my only 
child, and shut her up within the walls of his 
accursed harem. I dared to implore her release — 
offered gold — gold that would have purchased ten 
slaves more beautiful than she is; and the only 
answer I received, was a hundred strokes of the 
bastinado. Had they been upon my feet, I should 
have been a cripple for life; but a Janissary 
may not be beaten, save on the back; I had just 
been enrolled, so I escaped ; but the wounds upon 
my body are yet unhealed. I bore all in silence, 
for I had vowed revenge. Open the gate before 
midnight — promise to protect me afterwards, and 



270 MELANTHE. 

I will lay the train. Five hundred picked men of 
the Sultan's own body guard, and several of his 
best officers, are within the tower — where will they 
he to-morrow F" 

A shudder ran through the Christians at the 
savage grin which glared on the countenance of 
Hassan, as he uttered these words ; but pity may 
not tarry in the breast of a warrior ; and Constan- 
tine gave the required promise. The tear which 
had glistened in the eye of the Moslem father, as 
he spoke of his daughter, showed the depth of the 
grief which a Turk ever scorns to betray, and the 
Emperor no longer hesitated to trust him. The 
words of Hassan were true. That night, ere the 
midnight watch was set, the work of thousands 
was destroyed ; and the shriek that rent the air, as a 
terrific explosion lighted up the heavens till the 
stars paled beneath its glare, told to Mahomet that 
in the ready treachery of an enslaved people, might 
ever be found one of the sure and bitter curses of a 
despot. 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

The check which the Turkish arms received, 
had the effect of producing a temporary cessation 
of hostilities. The rage of the Sultan knew no 
bounds; and it was in fear and trembling that 
Calil Pacha ventured to lay before him the over- 
tures of the besieged for peace. The confidence of 
Mahomet had considerably abated, yet his words 
were more haughty than before; and the three 
conditions which he proposed as the terms of an 
honourable surrender were so revolting to the feel- 
ings of the Christians, that the negociations only 
terminated by a mutual increase of hatred and 
animosity. 

During the momentary repose afforded by the 
interchange of messages, the Emperor had had 
several interviews with Hassan, who was recovering 
from his wound. He had been received into the 
house of Elphenor, where he was watched and 



272 MELANTHE. 

tended by Ida with zealous care. The terror of 
the poor slave lest he should fall into the hands of 
Mahomet, was pitiable to behold ; yet, amidst all 
his fears, a feeling of gratitude and faith to his old 
master, Calil Pacha, constantly broke forth ; and 
in the most touching words he would bewail the 
unhappy situation of the Vizier, and his pro- 
bable fate, should the Sultan become aware of any 
of his mal-practices. Gratitude in a Turkish 
bosom holds the place of all other virtues; and 
Hassan could not forget the master whom he had 
served. Every day some new device was proposed 
by him, whereby the Vizier might be warned ; but 
hostilities had recommenced, and all possibility of 
friendly communication with the besiegers was 
consequently prohibited. 

At length, Demetrius, whose heart ever sunk at 
the mention of danger to the father of Chezme, 
undertook, with the permission of the Emperor, to 
endeavour to carry into effect a plan which Hassan 
solemnlv assured him, if successful, would be the 
means of saving the city. This was, to seek the 
Vizier, and, through his endeavour, to win over the 
o-ood offices of Almanzor, the chief astrologer. 



MELAXTHE. 2T3 

The gross superstition of Mahomet was no 
secret to his followers. In all his enterprises 
Almanzor accompanied him ; and so implicit was 
the belief of the Sultan in his predictions, that 
no plan of operations was decided upon with- 
out a previous consultation with the astrologer, 
who, for the greater convenience of his Royal 
Master, occupied a pavilion immediately behind 
that of the Sultan. More than once had Hassan 
been the depositary of the secret means by which 
the Vizier had contrived, when it suited his pur- 
pose, to influence the predictions of Almanzor ; and 
he informed the Emperor that it only needed a 
bribe more enormous than any he had ever received, 
to render the reading of the stars utterly un- 
propitious to the designs of the Sultan against the 
city. 

So confident was Hassan of the success of his 
scheme, that the Emperor at length consented to 
the prayer of Demetrius, who nobly volunteered to 
undertake the hazardous experiment of penetrating 
the Turkish camp. No sooner, however, had every 
thing been arranged, than a new difficulty presented 
itself. The royal treasury had been emptied by the 



274 MELANTHE. 

preparations for war ; and the city was reduced to 
such a degree of poverty, that Constantine had 
been reluctantly obliged to seize upon the holy 
vessels belonging to the churches^ and coin them 
into money, in order to satisfy the avarice of the 
mercenary troops, who refused to fight till the 
arrears of their pay had been discharged. To the 
everlasting shame of the Greeks, many there were 
who secreted their wealth, replying to the entreaties 
of their sovereign by allegations of poverty ; and 
when the attempt was about to be abandoned for 
want of means, it was a Jew who stepped forward 
to the relief of the Christian Emperor, who, in 
consideration of the valuable articles advanced, was 
actually forced to pledge the jewels of his imperial 
diadem. 

At length, all was prepared. For some days the 
siege had been carried on without vigour, and the 
hour of sunset had been the signal for the cessation 
of hostilities. With a beating heart, but a spirit 
which rose as the hour of danger approached, the 
young Demetrius impatiently watched the decline 
of day ; and no sooner had the brief twilight dis- 
appeared, than, fully equipped as a Janissary, he 



MEL AN THE. 275 

prepared to leave the city. With infinite toil he 
contrived to cross the ditch, and succeeded in clam- 
bering up the rocky ledge on the opposite side, 
which formed as it were a natural counterscarp. 
Looking cautiously around, he hastily traversed 
the space in front of the Turkish outposts, and 
taking advantage of a slight irregularity of ground, 
threw himself at full length into the shadow of the 
mound, in order to take a better survey of the 
objects around. 

The night was dark, though, at intervals, a 
struggling moonbeam shone for an instant through 
the heavy clouds that were hurrying across the 
sky. Demetrius could plainly discern the glim- 
mering of the crescent, which marked the pavilion 
of the Sultan ; while a little in advance, the dark 
green folds of the standard of the Prophet flapped 
heavily as the night wind swept past. To escape 
the vigilance of the sentries, was a task of no great 
difficulty. Sheltered by his disguise, which had 
been taken from a prisoner, Demetrius, assuming 
the air and gait of a Turk, was allowed to pass on 
unmolested, until he reached the camp ; but, once 
arrived within the incredible mass of confusion 
a Turkish encampment presents to the eye, his 



ST6 MELANTHE. 

perplexity returned ; and to reach the tent of the 
Vizier, without discovery, appeared a matter of 
impossibility. So profound was the silence which 
reigned around, that each step upon the sandy 
surface upon which he trod, was distinctly audible, 
and more than one turbaned Infidel of the numbers, 
who were lazily stretched on the ground before 
their tents, opened their eyes, and laid their hands 
on their scimitars, as the progress of Demetrius 
somewhat disturbed their repose. Still onwards 
he proceeded, taking advantage of each gleam of 
moonlight, in order, if possible, to ascertain the 
position of the tent of the Vizier, which was always 
at some little distance from that of the Sultan. 

Demetrius appeared to have reached the middle 
of the camp, but on all sides rose pavilions of 
so much magnificence, that it was impossible for 
a stranger to distinguish between them. In the 
centre stood one tent much larger than the rest, 
and elevated upon a dais. This Demetrius knew 
to be the one in which the council met, and in front 
of which criminals were executed. Fifteen Spahts 
stood with drawn sabres at the entrance, to guard 
the imperial treasure, which, in little boxes, is 
always kept in this tent. Not daring to approach 



MELANTHE. 277 

too closely, lest some awkwardness might reveal to 
the watchful eyes of the Spahis that he had dared 
to use the garments of a Janissary as a disguise, 
Demetrius wandered on, obtaining through some 
curtain left unclosed, in order to admit the air, an 
occasional glimpse of the interior of the tents, the 
splendour of the hangings and furniture of which 
far surpassed his imaginings ; but amidst the crowd 
of pavilions belonging to the Pachas, distinguished 
by the number of tails planted before their door, 
were mingled those of the Beys, A gas, and Nobles, 
in such confusion, that he began almost to despair 
of discovering that of the Vizier without addressing 
some inquiry to those around. 

More than once Demetrius was obliged to retrace 
his steps, for the path was encumbered to a degree 
that any one not conversant with the mode of 
Turkish warfare, would have imagined themselves 
in a fair rather than the camp of a besieging army. 
Artisans of every calling had contrived to set up 
their shops in as much apparent security as though 
not on a field of battle; and mingled with the 
tents were sheds for the sale of sherbet and coffee, 
which, though partially closed, revealed to the 



278 MEL AM THE. 

anxious glance of Demetrius hundreds of turbaned 
Infidels, sitting, cross-legged, upon mats, and 
as calmly and unmovedly enjoying themselves, 
as though the possibility did not exist that the 
morning sun might see the ground on which they 
sat, reddened by their blood. 

One word — one movement inconsistent with the 
disguise he had assumed — would have betrayed 
Demetrius to his foe, and it required all the 
brave spirit within his breast, to refrain from any 
indication of fear when he discovered that, turn 
which way he would, a figure constantly glided 
upon his steps. Unflinching in his purpose, he 
moved steadily on ; but his heart beat almost 
audibly, as, on passing before the door of a tent, 
from which issued a stream of light, the figure 
suddenly stood between him and the opening of 
the curtains, and he sickened with disgust as a 
hand was laid upon his arm, and he perceived the 
tall cap and flowing robe of a Dervish. The 
remembrance of the scenes he had witnessed in the 
convent rushed to his mind, and he hastily endea- 
voured to shake off* the unwelcome touch ; but in 
vain : and at length, yielding to an earnestness he 



MELANTHE. 279 

could neither comprehend nor resist, he suffered 
himself to be led, or rather pushed, into the shade 
of the tents between which he stood. 

" Hush !" said the Dervish, in a whisper so 
low as to be scarcely audible ; " one word, and 
you are lost.^' 

Demetrius started, and laid his hand on his 
sword. 

" Follow me, but speak not,*" said the Dervish ; 
and Demetrius, again yielding to an undefinable 
impulse, quietly obeyed. 

Not a word was spoken ; the dark figure of 
the Dervish, gliding through the mazes of the 
camp, was often scarcely discernible ; and several 
times Demetrius felt his hand seized as his con- 
ductor hurried him along. What was there in the 
pressure of that hand, vrrapped in the long sleeve 
of the Dervish habit ? More than once the frame 
of Demetrius seemed to shiver beneath its grasp. 

After many turnings and windings his guide 
stopped before a tent of larger dimensions than most 
of those they had passed, and having entered it, 
closed the curtain, and drew from a corner a robe 
similar to his own. Making a sign to Demetrius to 



S80 MELANTHE. 

envelope himself in its folds, at the same time re- 
moving the ample turban worn by the Greek, he 
hastily substituted the high felt cap belonging to 
the Dervishes, over which he drew the hood of the 
robe in a manner similar to that in which his own 
was arranged, totally concealing the face of the 
wearer. The Greek soldier actually shuddered 
with horror, as he found himself thus transformed in 
appearance to one of the sect he so much abhorred ; 
but his knowledge of Turkish customs went far to 
remove all feeling of alarm ; for, aware of the full 
liberty in which the whole tribe of Dervishes peram- 
bulate an Ottoman camp, and the veneration in 
which they are held, he was convinced that a friend 
watched over his safety. 

" And now," said the Dervish, as once more 
they moved forwards, " what would Demetrius of 
Ypsara in the midst of an enemy's camp ?" 

" You know me, then ?" incautiously exclaimed 
Demetrius, almost aloud. 

" Hush !" replied the Dervish, in a low whisper. 
" I do — and would serve you. Tell me how I 
may do so —be quick — but'' — seeing that Demetrius 
hesitated-" be honest," 



MELAXTHE. 281 

" Lead me to the Vizier's tent, and let me see 
him alone." 

'*" Alone," repeated the Dervish, somewhat bit- 
terly ; and Demetrius almost gasped for breath as 
he thought the tone was one that he recognised ; 
but the Dervish again sinking his voice to the same 
whisper, continued, " Is it on thine own, or thy 
master's business thou hast come here ?" 

'• My master s is my own — although my own 
may not be my master's," replied Demetrius, with 
a suppressed sigh. 

The answer appeared to satisfy the Dervish ; and 
after the pause of a moment, he said calmly, though 
in the same scarcely audible whisper, " Trust all, 
or nothing. If I do thy bidding, I must hear thy 
words, even though the Vizier be not aware of my 
presence." 

" Be it so, then," replied Demetrius, whose 
confidence in his unknown friend had wonderfully 
increased within a short time. 

Not another word was spoken. Soon the nume- 
rous guards and attendants they encountered, 
denoted the neighbourhood of some great person- 
age ; and the outer circle of tents being passed. 



282 MELANTHE. 

the crimson and gold hangings of the pavilion of 
the Vizier were visible from the light of many 
lamps which were hung around the entrance. 
Without impediment they gained the inner com- 
partment of the tent ; for such was the respect 
and superstitious reverence of the Ottomans of all 
grades for the Dervishes, that it was esteemed a 
high honour if any one of them condescended to 
take up his abode within the walls of a Turkish 
dwelling ; and the prayers of the holy man were 
entreated by the favoured individual, who in the 
presence of his guest felt secure of salvation. 

The surprise of Calil Pacha on the discovery of 
the supposed Dervish, was not a little amusing to 
Demetrius, who, as he gradually unfolded the plan 
which had been proposed, marked the look of 
trepidation with which the Vizier regarded the 
kneeling figure of the Dervish who had accom- 
panied him, and who, with his back turned, was 
apparently occupied by his devotions. 

" Assuredly, assuredly !" said the Vizier, hur- 
riedly, as Demetrius concluded by a mention of the 
valuable presents from the Emperor, of which he 
was the bearer ; " thy words are full of truth, and 



MELANTHE. 28S 

thy Emperor a man of grace and bounty, not to 
mention the noble Elphenor. But the risk is 

fearful " and Calil looked around, as if in 

each fold of the rich drapery of his tent lurked a 
spy of his royal enemy. 

" And your friend ? good Demetrius,"" he added, 
as his eye lighted upon the figure of the kneeling 
Dervish. " I must speak with him — is he, too, a 
Greek ?" 

" Nay," exclaimed Demetrius, who saw that for 
some weighty reason the Dervish carefully con- 
cealed his person from the eye of the Vizier, " your 
Eminence has nothing to fear. The holy man I 
have long know n — he has been deaf from his birth ; 
the thunder of the cannon could not reach his ear, 
and his tongue is tied by a vow of silence, which 
your mightiness must well know by a Dervish is 
never broken."" 

The ready wit of Demetrius prevented a disclo- 
sure which, much as he himself desired it, might, 
he readily surmised, place the whole party in jeo- 
pardy ; and after some further consultation, and 
promises of reward and favour from the Christian 
Emperor, Calil took his way to the tent of the 
Astrologer. 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

The moments seemed as hours to the anxious 
Demetrius, before he was summoned by Calil Pacha 
to the presence of Almanzor, the chief astrologer 
to the Sultan. The interval had not passed very 
quietly, as appeared by the agitation of the Vizier. 
Either the cupidity of Almanzor was unsatisfied, 
or his conscience really smote him, when he found 
himself suddenly called upon at one blow to anni- 
hilate the hopes and fortune of his sovereign, by 
declaring the will of Heaven opposed to further 
proceedings against the Christians. Certain it was, 
that the refusal of the astrologer had never been 
so positive, nor his professions of attachment to 
Mahomet so profuse as upon this occasion. Slowly, 
and apparently with the greatest reluctance, did 
he at length consent ; and the Vizier hastened to 
introduce to the presence of Almanzor the bearer 
of the promised bribe ; for Demetrius, aware of the 



MELANTHE. 285 

abyss of treachery which in a Turkish government 
yawns on every side, had firmly refused to part 
with the jewels he bore, except to the person for 
whom they were destined. 

He found Almanzor seated upon a cushion in 
the centre of the tent, around which the symbols of 
his art were carefully arranged, his own figure 
forming a strange contrast to the rest of the apart- 
ment ; for though this was plain, even to meanness, 
the astrologer was clothed in a robe of flowered 
velvet, lined with costly sables, a fur only permitted 
to the Sultan and the highest of the nobles ; while 
from his neck depended a chain of the most elabo- 
rate workmanship, representing the twelve signs of 
the Zodiac, in jewels of every colour. Rings glit- 
tered upon his fingers ; and the high cap which he 
wore was one blaze of light from the macrnificence 
of the gems with which it was adorned. It seemed 
a matter of difficulty to determine how much 
would be sufficient to tempt one already so rich ; 
but Demetrius, aware of the immense value of the 
treasures entrusted to his care, boldly drew them 
from his vest, and laid them one by one on a low 
stool by the side of Almanzor. Calm and stately, 



IvI ELAN THE. 

the thin face and deep set eye of the reader of the 
stars gave no token of surprise or admiration. Not 
so the Vizier. No sooner had the first of the 
articles produced by Demetrius met the eye of 
CaUl, than an exclamation of surprise burst from 
his lips. 

" Holy Allah ! can it be possible — it is very like 
— but all pearls bear a close similitude — and those 
emeralds. Surely the villain has not dared — I will 
not believe it — tell me, my friend,'' said Calil, no 
longer able to contain himself, as he imagined he 
recognised the jewels, which were in fact his own, 
" whence hadst thou these gems ?" 

" From the Emperor — my master," began De- 
metrius, " to whom a wealthy Jew " 

" Ay, a Jewish merchant ! Levi by name ! Yes 
— yes. I see it all," exclaimed the Vizier, wildly, 
maddened by the thought that the very jewels of 
which he had hoped to make base merchandise in a 
distant land, had returned to bear witness as it 
were against him. 

" Merciful Allah ! I am betrayed — ruined," he 
exclaimed almost with a shriek, as the magnificent 
ruby of a form and size so remarkable, that it 



MELANTHE. 287 

must at once be recognised as that given by the 
Sultan to Elphenor, was added to the glittering 
heap now in the possession of the astrologer. 
*•' Good Almanzor — worthy friend — oh ! suffer me 
but to return this ruby to the Christian soldier, 
and all I have shall be thine. Were but his 
Highness, the Sultan, to hear of it " 

At this moment, a low hissing laugh was heard 
in the tent, but from what quarter it had proceeded 
no one seemed to know. The ruby fell from the 
grasping fingers of Calil Pacha ; Demetrius startled 
from his caution, laid his hand upon the dagger 
concealed beneath his vest ; and even the attendant 
Dervish quitted his kneeling posture, and stood 
upright by the side of the young Greek. The 
astrologer alone appeared unmoved. It was as if 
the fiends, with whom he was supposed to hold con- 
verse, had whispered in his ear a language unknown 
to his companions ; for he slowly raised his wand, 
and pointing to the curtain of black which veiled 
the entrance to the tent, motioned to his visitors to 
withdraw. 

Surprised at this termination to their interview, 
Demetrius remained firm, until finding his hand 



288 MELANTHE. 

cautiously seized, and that his mysterious guide 
endeavoured to draw him from the spot where he 
stood, he made one effort more to secure the ac- 
complishment of the scheme for which he had run 
so many risks. Making a deep obeisance to the 
astrologer, he said, with as much of respect as he 
could throw into his voice and manner, " Man of 
science and of might — thou to whom it is given to 
read the stars and to know tlie destiny of nations, 
tell me by what token I may show to my master 
that thou art favourable to his wishes ?'' 

" Young man,'' said Almanzor, slowly ; " as 
my years are many, so are my words few; the 
Vizier hath my promise— depart in peace !" 

The deep voice of the astrologer, and the solemn 
manner of his address, overawed the feelings of 
contempt with which Demetrius had entered his 
presence ; for even the minds of the Christians in 
those days were not untinged by a superstitious 
belief in the power of such as affected to pry into 
futurity. The astrologer had risen as he spoke, 
and raising the ebony wand which he held, again 
motioned to his visitors to depart. 

With a low obeisance, Demetrius withdrew, 



MELAXTHE. 289 

though ill satisfied with the success of his mission ; 
but it was some time before Calil could summon 
courage to follow him, till seeing that Almanzor 
would not be further questioned, he also moved 
towards the door, still keeping his eyes rivetted on 
the jewels, amongst which the pear-shaped ruby 
glittered like a star of fire. 

No sooner was he alone, than Almanzor, hastily 
securing the entrance, moved towards the opposite 
side of the tent, and drawing forth a slight iron 
rod, the wall of black cloth fell to the ground, and 
the Sultan stood before him. Bending low on one 
knee, Almanzor would have kissed the border of 
the imperial robe ; but Mahomet, unheeding the 
salutation of his Astrologer, strode into the middle 
of the tent, and seizing upon the jewels that lay 
where Demetrius had placed them, exclaimed, in a 
voice almost inarticulate from fury, 

" For every pearl on this string shall the traitor 
receive a hundred blows. Slave ! — caitiff! — son of 
a dog ! by the beard of the Holy Prophet, the day 
that I stand within the walls of Constantinople, 
the gold of the Christians shall pour molten down 
the throat that has dared thus to lie to his sove- 

VOL. I. o - 



MELANTHE. 

reign. Accursed traitor ! every torture that skill 
can devise awaits thee at my first hour of leisure." 
Till then must I feign ignorance ; and thou, 
Almanzor, see that the secret is kept, or, despite 
thy holy calling, shalt thou taste of my vengeance.'' 

" May the glory of the universe number 
Almanzor among his deadliest foes, if the Vizier's 
name escape his lips until His Highness is avenged," 
obsequiously replied the Astrologer. " Yet night 
and day must I implore the pardon of Allah, 
through the intercession of his Holy Prophet, 
for having even pretended to hearken to his 
treachery." 

" It was well done, and Allah is merciful !" 
answered the Sultan in a more moderate tone. 
" The Vizier is in favour with the people, and it 
were well to have some proof of his guilt, though 
had we none, his death had still been certain. 
Thou hast played thy part well, Almanzor." 

The Astrologer bent low before his sovereign, 
well knowing that he alone possessed the power to 
tame the fiery spirit which, except when worked 
upon by superstition, recked neither of heaven nor 
of hell, whenever the gratification of his furious 



MELANTHE. 291 

passions was at stake. Long and deep was the 
conference which ensued, till Almanzor, who 
had his own reasons for so doing, at length per- 
suaded the Sultan to postpone the general assault 
which he meditated for the morrow, until a more 
propitious conjunction of the planets should autho- 
rise the measure. 

Though writhing with impatience, it never 
occurred to Mahomet to doubt the celestial in- 
fluences ; and he withdrew to his tent, to solace 
his perturbed spirit by inventing fresh cruelties to 
be practised towards the Christians who might fall 
into his hands. 

In the meantime a stormy interview had taken 
place between Demetrius and the Vizier, until, 
satisfied by the reiterated protestations of Calil, 
that no doubt whatever existed as to the friendly 
disposition of the astrologer towards the Christians, 
and that the Vizier was equally prepared to assist 
the Emperor, whenever a favourable opportunity 
should occur, Demetrius took his leave, and, accom- 
panied by his silent and mysterious guide, prepared 
again to traverse the mazes of the Infidel camp. 

The moon now shone in full splendour ; but, 



292 MELANTHE. 

wrapped in their disguise, the two Dervishes passed 
safely on, without question or remark. Still De- 
metrius could not help observing that when most 
distant from danger, the voice of his companion 
was lower than before, and his answers more 
brief and hurried. The gratitude which filled the 
heart of the young Greek, for his almost miracu- 
lous preservation, flowed in fervent protestations 
from his lips ; and yet a monosyllable, or inclina- 
tion of the head, was the only reply to his entreaty, 
that the name of his preserver might be revealed 
to him. 

" Tell me, at least, thy name, that I may join 
it in my prayers with the one that ever rises to my 
lips," were the words of Demetrius, as they stood 
once more on the brink of the ditch which sepa- 
rated them from the walls of the city. The 
Dervish shook his head, but vouchsafed no reply. 

"Is there nothing that I can do ?'' said Demetrius, 
bitterly, " to prove my eternal gratitude ?" 

" The ring that is on thy finger," whispered his 
companion ; " I would keep that as an earnest of 
thy faith." 

*' My ring !" exclaimed Demetrius, as he raised 



MELANTHE. 293 

to his lips the ruby which had been the parting 
gift of Chezme. " Ask my life; nay, a thousand 
lives, had I them to give, should be sacrificed, ere 
that ring quitted my finger." 

" A talisman, perhaps?" said the Dervish in- 
quiringly. 

" Mine, at least,"' answered Demetrius, passion- 
ately. " My hope, — my life, — my very soul is 
bound up with this, and none but the hand that 
gave shall have power to claim it whilst I breathe."* 

Demetrius, as his mind turned to the hour and 
the scene when that ring had been placed upon his 
finger, raised his clasped hands towards heaven, 
and remained for a few moments as if in prayer. 
Suddenly he started ; a sigh — a soft and stifled 
sigh, had reached his ear. Was it the low moan 
of the night wind? or the spirit of his loved 
Chezme come to answer to his prayer ? Demetrius 

could not tell He looked around, but no one 

was near ; and even the dim outline of the flowing 
robes of the Dervish, as he retreated towards the 
camp of the Infidels, was fast disappearing in the 
gloom. 



CHAPTER XXV. 

The wrath of the baffled Sultan grew more fierce, 
as the brightest efforts of his genius were foiled by 
the sturdy vigilance of his foe ; while the position 
of the besieged became every moment more des- 
perate. To defend themselves within their walls 
was now their only aim ; for every attempt at a 
sally had been attended with so much loss, that the 
garrison was reduced to less than half of its original 
strength. 

The treasury was empty, provisions were failing, 
and discontent rapidly gaining ground. No effort 
or self-denial practised by the young Emperor, 
infused the slightest spirit into the breast of the 
dastard Greeks. To save themselves, and their 
property, was their only wish ; and more than once, 
as the brave and noble Constantine had appeared 
before his subjects as a suppliant, he had been 



MELANTHE. 295 

greeted with taunts and reproaches for not acceding 
to the degrading terms upon which alone Mahomet 
had declared that he would spare the lives of the 
citizens. The anguish which filled the heart of 
the Emperor, on beholding the ingratitude and ab- 
ject spirit of a people he had cherished, was only 
equalled by the unparalleled energy and devotion 
he displayed. To this young Prince, born in luxury, 
and whose natural inclination had been a life of 
pleasure and of ease, the first touch of adversity 
had been like that of an enchanter''s wand. He 
had been transformed at once into a hero. For- 
getting his habits of indolence and state, every 
effort was exerted to rescue his people from a fate 
which, in the sublime elevation of his soul, he 
hourly and fervently prayed might fall on him 
alone, as alone deserving the wrath of heaven for 
the supineness of his former life. 

Accompanied by his faithful friends, Elphenor 
and Demetrius, the Emperor, sometimes on foot, 
sometimes on horseback, visited every spot where 
his presence might encourage, or his sympathy 
console. Daily prayers were offered up in all the 
churches ; but neither the sincerity which the faith- 



296 MELANTHE. 

ful adherents of Constantine manifested on all 
occasions, nor, what was more extraordinary, the 
feeling of common danger, could touch the hearts 
of those whose idol was gold, and to whom bigotry 
and prejudice supplied the place of religion. 

At the hour when the cannon thundered at their 
gates; when the brave and the noble fell before 
their eyes ; when palaces were transformed to hos- 
pitals, and the beggar and the prince alike cried 
aloud to heaven for a morsel of bread for their 
famishing infants — even then were the churches 
of the Most High desecrated by schism, and false 
preachers deluded the divided people, till in very 
madness they were ready to fall upon each other, 
both parties imagining, in the fury of their zeal, 
that heaven only demanded the sacrifice of the op- 
posing sect, as a retribution for its apostacy. 

The misery of the Romans was at its height. 
Worn out and dispirited, even the most faithful 
began to despair. The siege had now lasted more 
than a month ; and as the eyes of the wretched citi- 
zens rested upon the boundless view of the Turkish 
camp, hope died in every breast. The last hour 
was nearly come. The city could not hold out 



MELANTHE. 297 

another day, and it was determined that one furious 
sally should take place, and that, surrounded by a 
chosen troop, Constantine should endeavour to cut 
his way through the camp of the enemy. 

It was the middle of May, and the bright sun of 
summer shone gladly on the city of the doomed. The 
famishing and the wounded turned with a sickening 
shudder from the bright ray ; but from none did 
the sob of agony burst with a more bitter pang 
than from the breast of the young monarch, as he 
looked upon the rising beam — and knew that ere 
sunset, from the spot where he stood, the crescent 
might gleam and the banner of the Infidel wave ! 
To perish nobly, sword in hand, was the only hope 
that was left ; and as, after having first attended 
a solemn mass, and received the sacrament in the 
church of Santa Sophia, the brave band of soldiers 
gathered slowly in the open space before the gate 
of the city, the stern brow of many might have 
been seen to relax, as with one long look they bade 
adieu to home and to life. 

One by one, and in silence, the officers took their 
appointed stations ; and when the devoted troop, 
headed by their young and gallant sovereign, 
o 5 



298 MELANTHE. 

marched onwards, towards the principal gate, many 
a bold heart swelled, and many a cheek grew pale, 
as the cry of anguish from balcony or lattice told 
that upon their doomed heads fond eyes were look- 
ing their last. 

Close behind the Emperor, came Elphenor and 
Demetrius, faithful even unto death ! The word 
was given. Already the head of the column had 
entered the narrow street leading to the towers upon 
the wall, when the hand of Elphenor was suddenly 
grasped by Constantine, who had turned to look 
once more upon the scene he was about to quit for 
ever. That flash upon the bosom of the waters ! 
Whence came it ? None could answer, ere the 
sullen boom of the gun had startled every ear. 
The brave troop had halted before the word of 
their sovereign could reach them. Another and 
another shot was heard, and then the quick dis- 
charge of the lesser guns peculiar to the Turkish 
vessels, showed that the conflict had begun. The 
firing was from far below the port. Hope dawned 
in every bosom, and every heart stood still until 
the. smoke had cleared away, and then a cry of 
exultation broke from the lips of Constantine. 



MELANTHE. 299 

" They have not forgotten me !'' he exclaimed, 
pointing to the stately gallies of Genoa, which now- 
appeared upon the waters of the Bosphorus, 

" My people, ye shall yet be saved ;" cried 
Constantine, as he bounded forward towards the 
rising ground, which commanded a more extended 
view of the straits. 

His hope was not deceived. The promised 
succour was at hand ; and no sooner had the 
intelligence been made known, than all order was 
forgotten in the city. The inhabitants rushed into 
the streets, and, mingling with the soldiers and the 
priests, pressed onwards, until the Seven Hills were 
one mass of living beings ; while a shout of joy 
burst from the multitude, till the heavens re-echoed 
its sound. Hope lighted up every face, and the 
people, thus suddenly snatched from despair, gave 
themselves up to the extravagance of joy, encou- 
raging, by their cries, the efforts which their 
gallant friends were making, to force the line of 
Ottoman ships which guarded the entrance to the 
port. 

Meanwhile the Sultan was not idle. Alarmed 
by the firing, he had quitted his camp, and 



300 MELANTHE. 

mounting his horse, hastened to the nearest point 
from which he could obtain a distinct view of the 
Bosphorus. One glance showed him the Genoese 
vessels already advanced to within a short dis- 
tance of the port. The evident inferiority of his 
naval force, added to the frenzy with which he 
viewed the impending succour that promised to 
the Christians a chance of escape. Maddened 
by the prospect of delay, if not failure, at the 
moment when he knew that the resources of the 
city were exhausted, he gave way to the most 
violent expressions of rage ; at one time urging 
the noble steed that bore him into the midst of the 
waves; at another, threatening with instant death, 
not only the Capitan Pacha, Baltha Oglou, but 
every sailor on board his fleet ; and then again, as 
success seemed to waver, encouraging, by word 
and gesture, the very persons he had just de- 
nounced, as though imagining that his voice could 
reach them through the roar of the battle. 

The scene at this instant was most exciting and 
splendid. Hemmed in by sea and land, the seven- 
hilled city lay in her helpless beauty, in the very 
arms of her foe; and struggling to her release 



MELANTHE. 301 

came the brave Giustiniani, with his followers, 
from Genoa and Venice, fighting their way through 
the Infidel fleet, which, as a swarm of locusts, 
darkened the face of the waters. Far away to the 
East stretched the forests of the Asiatic shore, 
losing themselves in the deep shadow of the 
mountains; while the more gentle AVestern hills, 
covered with the Ottoman tents, were gleaming in 
the morning sun, white as the summit of Olympus ; 
and beneath, upon the bosom of that narrow strait, 
whose shores smiled in the gladness of their beauty, 
the blue wave was reddening in the death struggle 
of that spirit which never sleeps — the strife between 
man and man. 

More than once the hearts of the Christians 
trembled, as the power of numbers threatened to 
prevail. The odds were fearful. But at length 
the triumph of discipline became apparent, and the 
five noble vessels forced their way through a fleet 
of three hundred sail, and safely anchored within 
the port of the Golden Horn. 

With tears of joy Constantine and his people 
welcomed their brave allies, and the supplies of 
corn, and of money, with the eflicient aid of four 



302 MELANTHE. 

hundred men, again raised the spirits of the 
Christians. 

The desperation of the Sultan increased every 
moment. The siege was renewed with vigour ; 
and the day after the arrival of Giustiniani, his 
eyes were greeted by a sight of such unequalled 
barbarity as almost to strike the beholders with 
madness. All night long the air had been 
filled with shrieks of the most heart-rending 
distress ; but it was not till the morning that the 
cause was revealed to the besieged, when the 
opposite side of the ditch presented a forest of 
upright spikes, upon each of which the brutal 
Mahomet had caused a Christian prisoner to be 
impaled ; and the heat of the sun increasing the 
misery of those who still survived the tortures of 
the night, their piteous cries for water filled the 
breasts of the hearers with horror and despair. 

Distracted by the impossibility of affording relief 
to the suffering wretches, the usual gentleness and 
humanity of the Christian Emperor forsook him ; 
and ordering every Turkish prisoner to the walls, 
they were instantly beheaded, and their bodies left 
exposed to the view of their countrymen. Each 



MELAXTHE. 303 

day added fresh horrors to the siege, until the busy 
brain of Mahomet de\'ised a scheme unequalled in 
daring and skill. In the dead of the night, the neck 
of land which runs behind the suburb of Galata, 
was completely covered over, the boards being ren- 
dered slippery by the fat of oxen rubbed upon 
them. A road was thus contrived, by which the port 
of the Golden Horn might be reached ; and during 
the darkness, no less than seventy ships were safely 
drawn across the Isthmus by the force of pullies 
and the united strength of thousands, driven by 
the scourge to perform a feat apparently beyond 
the power of man. 

The following day, terror seized upon the Chris- 
tians. Seventy Turkish vessels were riding at 
anchor in the bosom of their harbour. To defend 
themselves on both sides was impossible; and 
sword in hand, the Emperor once more put himself 
at the head of his troops, now nerved to iron by 
despair. The evident treachery of the Genoese 
merchants of Galata redoubled the apprehension 
within the city ; while the Ottoman troops, wild 
with the excitement of delay, clamoured for per- 
mission for a general assault. 



304 MELANTHE. 

Still the Sultan hesitated. Almanzor declared 
the heavens unpropitious ; but at length, over- 
come by the anxiety of Mahomet, the Astrologer 
pronounced the fatal word. The 29th of May 
was chosen as the auspicious day by the conjunc- 
tion of the planets, and the Sultan proclaimed 
that honour and reward, according to his option, 
should be the portion of him who first stood upon 
the walls of Constantinople. But while his words 
breathed kindness, his heart was steeled to all 
human feeling, and he only waited the rising of 
the sun to effect a diabolical scheme, by which he 
secured from failure his final attempt upon the city. 

He caused a proclamation to be made through 
the camp, inviting every artisan and follower to 
assemble before the walls ; and thus having collected 
an immense crowd of unsuspecting wretches, he, 
at the head of his Janissaries, charged upon the 
unoffending multitude, forcing them onward until 
the ditch was filled with living beings ; and the 
Janissaries, rushing to the attack, drowned the cries 
of the victims with shouts of " Allah ! Allah !" 

The doom of the city was sealed. The angle of 
the tower above the gate of St. Romanus, gave 



MELANTHE. 805 

way before the battery which played upon it ; the 
crumbling stone fell with a heavy crash into the 
ditch ; and Constantine, wearing his crown and 
imperial mantle, appeared in the breach. Vainly 
were the shields of the devoted few, whose love for 
their Emperor made them heedless of self, inter- 
posed to ward off the blows which were heaped 
upon him ! With one hand, the brave Demetrius 
tore from his shoulders the purple mantle which 
marked the Emperor to the eyes of all, while with 
the other he tried to parry the attacks directed 
at him, until a stroke from a sabre cleft his own 
helmet. Bewildered by the blow, he scarcely 
heeded the voice which summoned him to sur- 
render, nor perceived that the soldier who twined 
his arms around him, seemed more anxious to 
protect than to injure. The Janissary stooped to 
the ear of Demetrius. One word appeared suddenly 
to revive the spirit of the young Greek, and his 
eye brightened as he permitted the friendly hand 
of his victor to drag him beneath the shelter of a 
projecting buttress. 

The Emperor was still unhurt. Step by step, 
and inch by inch, the Christians disputed the 



MELANTHE. 

ground with their enemies, who, in overwhelming 
numbers, now mounted the breach, till at length, a 
cry from Giustiniani, as he received a wound, 
caught the ear of Demetrius. For an instant, Con- 
stantine turned his head to implore — to command 
the Italian to stay and rally his flinching followers, 
who were retreating from the walls. That instant 
was fatal ! A blow from a Janissary pierced the 
heart of the monarch. He sank upon his knee, 
and tried to raise his shield above his head ; but 
the effort was vain. His arm drooped — the 
sword fell from his grasp ; and in another moment, 
the last Emperor of the Greeks — Constantine, the 
young, the noble, and the brave, was numbered 
with the dead ! 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

The fall of their Emperor was the signal of 
defeat to the unhappy Greeks, who, no longer 
sustained by the spirit and courage of their brave 
Prince, bent to the conquering foe, as grass before 
the scythe. All opposition ceased, and those who 
encountered the full tide of the torrent of enemies, 
which now poured in on all sides, were either slain 
or made prisoners. 

Intoxicated with joy, which, for the time, gave 
to his character a want of caution foreign to its 
nature, Mahomet entered the city. Forgetting, in 
his pride, that it was his own interest to preserve, 
in all its splendour, the conquest which he had 
achieved, he himself gave the example of the most 
wanton excesses, striking and mutilating, with 
insane ferocity, even the most beautiful works of 
art that lay upon his passage. He paused, for an 
instant, on reaching the Hippodrome ; his en- 



308 MELANTHE. 

lightened taste seemed to forbid such profanation ; 
but when his eyes fell upon the splendid monuments 
of each era of science and of art collected upon 
the spot, a savage smile again gleamed upon his 
features ; and as though to spare any thing prized 
by the Christians were an act of too much leniency, 
he raised once more his ponderous battle-axe, and 
with a blow struck off one of the heads of the 
brazen serpents, which formed the celebrated 
column in the centre of the arena. 

Encouraged by his example, the work of devas- 
tation was continued by his followers, and the city 
was instantly a scene of pillage and of blood. 
The shrieking inhabitants submitted in vain. All 
were massacred who had not succeeded in obtaining 
a temporary concealment. 

In the midst of this scene of horror, one spot 
alone offered a contrast so striking as to afford a 
lamentable demonstration of the power of super- 
stition and credulity over fear. For some time 
past it had been announced to the people, by one 
of those impostors, who, in all ages, have found it 
possible to delude, at least a portion of their 
hearers, that, in a vision from heaven, it had been 



MELANTHE. S09 

revealed to him, that, in the event of the fall of 
Constantine, the Sultan would enter the city ; but 
upon his arrival at a particular spot, his power 
against the Christians would cease, and the angel 
of the Lord would stand, w4th a drawn sword, to 
prevent the entrance of the Infidels into the church 
of Saint Sophia ! So firmly had this delusion taken 
hold of the mind of the people, that the interior of 
the immense structure was filled — not with the 
shrieking or the faint, but with citizens and priests, 
merchants and nobles, artisans and soldiers, — all 
calm and collected, sustained by their blind cre- 
dulity, and patiently awaiting the supernatural 
delivery they had so long been taught to expect. 
It was a bitter sight, to see the old and grey-headed, 
the mailed warrior and the bearded sage, trying to 
infuse into the minds of the weeping and terrified 
women within the church, not the spirit of resigna- 
tion befitting all Christians, but the impious feeling 
of certainty, that a miracle was about to be per- 
formed for their relief, and that the will of God 
encouraged this blind reliance, which forbade all 
human effort at escape. 

Such were the doctrines that resounded on all 



310 MELANTHE. 

sides, and many listened and were appeased ; for in 
Constantinople superstition was at its height, and 
the host of fanatics which had that day poured 
from the monasteries and convents of the city into 
the sacred edifice of Saint Sophia, was for the most 
part incapable of aught but a blind submission to 
the dictates of others. 

There was one, however, who stood apart from 
the mass. Ida, the loved and loving wife of El- 
phenor was there, with her infant child. Alone, 
and unprotected, she sought not in that infatuated 
crowd for counsel or consolation ; but, kneeling at 
the foot of the cross, she raised in her trembling 
arms the sleeping form of Melanthe, imploring for 
her beloved child that release from danger and from 
death which she dared not hope for herself ! 

Absorbed by her prayers, and the deep sorrowing 
of her already widowed heart, she did not observe 
the sudden movement which had taken place within 
the building. It was as though a sharp gust of 
wind had passed over the bosom of a lake, so im- 
mediate was the rocking to and fro of the sea of 
heads which covered the immense floor of the 
church. The deadened sound of many voices 



MELANTHE. 311 

hushed to a whisper followed— every one seemed to 
have asked some question of his neighbour — then 
all again was silent and still ! Each gallery, nook, 
and window, crowded to excess, appeared as if filled 
with statues. The monks suspended their preach- 
ing — the fanatic was struck dumb — children forgot 
to weep, and nuns to pray, — and even the trembling 
mother hushed her sob in that moment of horrible 
suspense, made yet more horrible by the utter un- 
certainty of the quarter from whence the alarm had 
proceeded. 

That there was cause for alarm no heart in that 
vast assembly dared to deny. The freezing chill of 
terror was visible on every brow. Each stood as 
though turned to stone — while, within the breast, 
that deep storehouse of deceit and falsehood, which, 
if closed to other eyes, yet is open to our own, at the 
first angry glance of heaven, human fallacies, and 

human strength withered and vanished Danger 

was at hand — danger and death in its most fearful 
form. Who should now save them ? who could save 
them, but the God whom they had impiously braved 
by their trust in human aid ? and as if this truth at 
once rushed to every heart, the whole of the trem- 
bling multitude simultaneously sunk upon their 
knees. 



312 MELANTHE. 

Alas ! it was too late for hope. In another in- 
stant the dreadful fate that was approaching was 
made manifest to them. The crowds which had 
filled the upper galleries of the church were seen 
hurrying from the windows ; and the fearful cries 
of " They are coming ! they are coming I — they 
have passed the square — ^barricade the doors," were 
soon drowned in the shrieks of the multitude. The 
predictions of their false prophets were as air ; and 
the unhappy people thus found themselves without 
hope of escape ! Their eyes were opened ! — they 
now saw how they had been deceived ; and when 
this bitter conviction forced itself upon them, the 
cry of despair and agony which arose almost made 
the Moslem tigers quail, whilst about to spring upon 
their prey. 

The unhappy Ida, startled from her devotions, 
gazed wildly round; but not one glance of sympathy 
met her eye ! Each was thinking of himself, till 
the broken accents of a foreign tongue fell upon 
her ear ; and kneeling by her side she perceived 
the form of Hassan, who, dressed as a Greek, had 
followed her from the house of Elphenor. In the 
midst of her own sorrow the look of the unhappy 
Mussulman pierced the kind heart of Ida. If the 



MELANTHE. 313 

fate of the Greeks was certain, how much more so 
was the fate of him who had betrayed his sovereign. 
The tortures which would be his portion were 
already pourtrayed upon his face ; and Ida, desirous 
of imparting some comfort, endeavoured, in the 
pauses of the din which filled the church, to instil 
some feeling of courage into his mind. 

" Hassan !'' she said, " you have eaten of our 
bread, and drank of our cup, if I fall — you will 
protect my child ?" 

" When was a Mussulman ever ungrateful ?" 
was the only answer of the trembling Hassan ; and, 
as he spoke, he stretched out his arms towards the 
infant. 

" Not yet, not yet !" cried Ida, distractedly, 
clasping Melanthe closer to her breast : " but take 
these jewels ; if you escape, they will be of service 
to you,"" and she put into his hand a small packet. 

" Hark I that is their cry ! Holy Prophet, pro- 
tect us !"" gasped the terrified Hassan. " Lady ! 
haste further back, among the shrines. Oh ! God 
of heaven, they come ! Hark ! — how they batter 

the door does it yield ? No, no ; thousands 

press against it. Again, Holy Allah ! the cries of 

VOL. I. p 



314 MELANTHE. 

the Janissaries wax louder — the door it opens. 

Oh, Father of Mercy ! — Holy Prophet ! we are 
lost ;" and the miserable Hassan fell down behind a 
pillar, covering his face with his garment, imagin- 
ing that, notwithstanding his having adopted the 
dress of the Greeks, he must instantly be discovered, 
and that the first vengeance of the Infidels would 
fall upon him. 

Then commenced that horrible scene of butchery 
and violence, unsurpassed in the annals of history, 
where thousands of helpless, unarmed creatures 
were slaughtered in a moment ; while those who 
were spared knew that they were only reserved for 
a still worse fate, and looked with envy on the 
lifeless around ! 

Twice had the high spirited Ida, as she marked 
the separation of some of the youngest and fairest 
of the nuns from their more aged sisterhood, drawn 
from her bosom the poniard which she treasured as 
a last resource ; but each time the helpless babe she 
held had cried as it found itself disturbed, and that 
cry had overcome the firmness of the heart upon 
which its infant head was pillowed. Could she 
abandon her child ? With a movement of despera- 



MELANTHE. 315 

tion, Ida cast the dagger from her hand, and bury- 
ing her head upon the face of Melanthe, remained 
for a little while concealed by the projection of an 
altar, until she was dragged from her hiding 
place by some Turkish soldiers, who, satiated with 
slaughter, were selecting those they thought worthy 
to be carried off as prisoners. A few words, in a 
tone of insult, indistinctly reached her ear ; but as 
she was forced along, one of the barbarians per- 
ceived the child, and instantly seized upon it. Ida 
broke from the grasp of the soldiers, and throwing 
herself at the feet of a Turk, who appeared of a 
higher grade than his companions, she implored 
him to have pity on her — to restore her child. 

" It is the child of Elphenor ! — I am his wife ! 
You shall have gold,"*' she exclaimed ; but she had 
unconsciously thrown fuel on the flame, for, with an 
insulting laugh, the men only the more rudely forced 
her onwards, while their comrade turning round, 
cast the infant from his arms. The terrible shriek 
of the unhappy mother half diverted his attention ; 
and he did not see that a friendly hand had caught the 
babe, ere it was dashed to pieces on the marble floor. 
But Ida had seen it. In that moment of terror, 



316 MELANTHE. 

of agony, and of blood, the mother's eye had seen 
a form she knew, rise up to snatch the innocent 
from death. Hassan, whom she had tended, now 
saved for her that life far dearer than her own. 
She had seen him fold the infant to his breast, and 
had blessed him as she looked. It was the last 
look of the mother upon her child ! 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

Constantinople had fallen ! The glory of the 
empire of the Greeks had perished, and for ever ! 
and in the palace of the Caesars, dwelt their most 
deadly foe ! Mahomet, the Saltan of the Otto- 
mans, had given, in accordance with his oath, the 
lives and heritage of the Christians to his IVfoslem 
subjects. 

On the third day after his entrance into the 
city, he seemed for the first time to awake from the 
dream of insane delight, into which he had been 
plunged by success ; and issued an edict, by which 
the Turks were commanded to abstain from further 
plunder or deeds of violence. He at length ap- 
peared to remember, that the blood that flowed 
around him, was now drawn from the breasts of his 
own subjects. But ^vith this order ended all exer- 
tion which the Sultan appeared disposed to make. 

Satisfied as to the death of Constantine, whose 



318 MELANTHE. 

body had been found under a heap of slain, so 
covered with wounds, that the imperial features 
could not be distinguished, and that the golden 
eagles worked upon his shoes, alone testified his 
rank, Mahomet had contented himself with the 
cowardly act of ordering the head of the Emperor 
to be exposed above the gate of St. Romanus, the 
post which he had so long and gallantly defended. 
The mighty Sultan then abandoned himself to his 
pleasures, little imagining that within the walls of 
his palace, which now contained all that was fairest 
and noblest among the Christian women, he should 
meet with an opposition so determined, as to en- 
gross that time and attention, which ought to have 
been devoted to his subjects. 

But so it was ; and a suppliant at the feet of the 
beauteous Ida, Mahomet had condescended to re- 
main, from the hour when her matchless charms 
had shown him the inferiority of all he had 
hitherto deemed peerless. Perhaps it was the 
novelty of the situation, which caught the sated 
fancy of the Monarch — perhaps it was the charm 
of meeting for the first time in a woman's form 
a mind above disguise, and a soul above fear. 



MELANTHE. 319 

The intellect of Mahomet was capable of such dis- 
tinction ; and it appeared as though some secret 
influence had suddenly arisen, to induce a restraint 
of those unbridled passions, which had hitherto 
raged without a check. 

The unhappy Ida was bowed down by grief. 
Notwithstanding all her entreaties, her husband's 
fate still remained concealed from her, while that 
of her child was equally uncertain. Surrounded 
by the slaves of the Sultan, who possibly were as 
ignorant as they pretended to be, Ida could gain 
no intelligence of what passed without ; and yet, 
in the midst of woes so terrible, the spirit of the 
noble v^oman did not fail. Well versed in the 
character and temper of the tyrant who assailed 
her, she forebore to reproach or to irritate ; and con- 
cealing her wretchedness beneath an appearance of 
calm dignity, she continued to maintain over the mind 
of Mahomet the ascendancy she had gained. Thus 
had many days elapsed ; and the Sultan, yielding 
to the fascination which enthralled him, turned from 
the willing and the weak, with whom his harem 
was crowded, to the novel task of endeavouring to 
soften the proud Christian beauty, whose firmness 



B20 MELANTHE. 

and reliance upon the God to whom she prayed 
for support, while he openly attempted to deride, 
he secretly respected. 

At such a time, the seclusion- to which the Sul- 
tan devoted himself, was an event so unlooked for, 
that from impatience the public feeling rose to in- 
dignation ; and as the promises which had been 
held out, seemed in no way likely to be realized, 
a spirit of rebellion sprung into life, which the 
undisciplined state of the troops rendered of vital 
consequence. So rapidly did this feeling spread, 
that at length the Mufti undertook to represent to 
his sublime master the disaffection of the people, 
who, greedy of reward, murmured loudly against 
the edict forbidding further plunder, and claimed 
the promised recompence for their protracted la- 
bours during the siege. The news produced in 
the bosom of the Sultan a revolution of feeling so 
violent, that all effort at self-con troul was una- 
vailing. 

Well mio^ht Ida tremble afresh, as she marked 
the look of ferocity which lighted up, with the fury 
of a demon, the handsome countenance of her 
royal suitor ; and her heartsunk, as, one morning 



MELANTHE. 321 

at an earlier hour than usual, she beheld him enter 
her apartment. For a little while he looked upon 
her without speaking; then advancing towards 
her, he took her hand with unusual gentleness, and 
the courage of Ida grew more faint, as she listened 
to accents almost faltering, from emotion. 

" Ida,*" said Mahomet, " the hour has come when 
your own words must decide upon your fate. The 
leisure of the Sultan of the Ottomans is not his 
own. Already my people murmur. Thou art 
the cause ! — The slaves," he added more fiercely, 
"dare to question their master, and complain of 
the time that I give to thee.'' 

" Listen — oh, listen to their voice," exclaimed 
Ida. " Return to great deeds, and leave me to 
die in peace ; or," she continued, as for the first 
time she threw herself at the feet of Mahomet, 
" as you are mighty, be generous ; restore me to my 
husband, and my child, if indeed they still live." 

The attitude of Ida was so touching, her voice 
so soft, that Mahomet for an instant appeared to 
hesitate, as if some better feeling was struggling 
with the determination he had formed. She was so 
beautiful as she knelt before him, with tears like the 
p 5 



322 MELANTHE. 

dew upon the rose leaf, glittering on her cheek ; 
while the impassioned tenderness of her dove-like 
eyes, as she thought upon those so dear toher, seemed 
to irradiate her whole form, that a human heart 
could scarely steel itself against her prayers ; but 
Mahomet, when the fierce passions, which formed 
the prominent features of his character, were once 
aroused within him, had not a hilman heart. Still 
the love which the beauty and holiness of Ida had 
kindled in the bosom of the tyrant, partook more of 
softness than any feeling he had ever before expe- 
rienced; again the cruel look somewhat faded from 
his countenance, and raising Ida from the ground, 
he said, 

" For the last time, I ask you to be mine. Ida, 
I love you, as I never before have believed it pos- 
sible to love. Cannot my affection atone to you for 
what you have lost ? You shall be my wife. The 
bride of the Sultan is no mean estate " 

" Urge me no more," replied Ida firmly ; " my 
life is your's ; my honour is my own — and my hus- 
band''s," she added faintly, as she raised her eyes to 
heaven, " even should he have quitted this earth 
for ever !" 



MELAl^THE. 323 

" Ida !" said Mahomet quickly, " your husband 
lives, and is unhurt." 

A cry of rapture from his poor captive inter- 
rupted the words of the Sultan. He paused, and 
looked almost sadly upon the woman whose faith 
and affection were so much stronger than her fear. 
" Shall I ever be loved even as this woman loves ?" 
was his secret thought, as he gazed upon Ida 
with reverence. But she saw him not ; — her 
thoughts were with the captive in his dungeon, and 
her beloved child ; and in that paroxysm of agony 
her mind glanced back to the tenderness of other 
days — the happiness of their peaceful home — the 
blessings of their mutual love ; and, as the recollec- 
tion of later events rushed to her thoughts, and the 
misery of separation, the fear of dishonour, and the 
agony of suspense again darkened the vision of 
brightness conjured up by the name of her husband, 
Ida turned her eyes to him who stood by her side. 

Mahomet, the author of all this woe, was now a 
suppliant for her love. Disregarding the shudder 
which accompanied her look, the Sultan spoke once 
more : — 

" Yes, Ida ! your husband lives. Listen to my 



$M MELANTHE. 

words. You refuse to enter my harem — I have 
not enforced what you have refused. In return 
for this forbearance, promise me that you will be- 
come its inmate but for even for one day, nay, for 
one hour,"" he added hastily, as he marked the look 
of horror on the face of his captive ; " for one hour 
only; and I swear by all that a Mussulman holds 
most sacred, that the next shall see you restored to 
the arms of Elphenor. Think, Ida, of what you 
renounce — a life of happiness — of wealth — with the 
husband you love — the child in whom you delight. 
Think, ere you refuse the prayer of one who might 
command, yet stoops to implore, — will you not save 
your husband ?"" 

The head of Ida was bowed upon her hands, but 
the long slender fingers could not conceal the burn- 
ing blush which crimsoned the face of the unhappy 
woman. It was the struggle of a noble nature 
against temptation almost too powerful. The life 
of her husband and child — her own liberty — per- 
haps even her existence; and the tempter was a 
monarch, young, handsome, and to her, generous ; 
for to her had he not altered his manner, nay his 
very nature seemed changed, since he had learned to 



MELANTHE, 325 

love. For one instant Ida hesitated ; but a mind 
like her's could not contemplate dishonour. Slowly 
the colour faded from her cheek, and, as she raised 
her head, the marble fixedness of her brow, and the 
compression of her pale lips, told Mahomet that his 
prayer was refused, ere her low distinct accents met 
his ear. 

" The wife of a Christian," she said, "may not 
hearken to such words."" 

" Ida ! think — are you resolved .^" cried Maho- 
met, passionately. 

"I am; to welcome death before dishonour;'' 
calmly replied the unhappy woman, lifting her eyes 
meekly to Heaven. 

The Sultan did not answer, but strode fiercely 
to and fro in the chamber. He was evidently lash- 
ing himself into fury, and deigned no further to 
remonstrate or implore. The days since he had 
known Ida he had passed as though in a trance. 
His dream had been of love — he awoke to hatred. 
As he passed a window of the palace, the sound of 
many voices met his ear, and he could see the crowds 
gathering in the open space of the Hippodrome. 
Once more he approached Ida. " My people,'' he 



326 MELANTHE. 

said, " have dared to murmur that I have given to 
you those hours which should have been devoted to 
their interests. Suffer me to show them the cause 
of my neglect. The prisoners too await their doom, 
and all are gathered before the Palace gates. Let 
me lead you thither, your husband will be there/^ 

Thus saying, he took the hand of the astonished 
Ida, and leading her forth, she soon found herself 
in the centre of a circle, which, opening as the 
Sultan advanced, gave to her view the multitude 
beyond ; and, as Mahomet had predicted, at a 
short distance stood Elphenor, at the head of a 
group of panic-stricken prisoners, who doubted 
not they had been assembled to hear their sentence 
of death or torture. 

The heart of Ida throbbed wildly, as she met 
the eye of her husband ; and the smile with which 
she stretched out her hands towards him relieved 
the noble Greek of his most dreadful fear. His 
Ida could not have looked thus upon the face of 
her husband, had she been unworthy of his love. 
Meanwhile the Sultan was giving orders to those 
of his officers who were nearest, and the circle was 
suddenly compressed by the advance of the crowd, 



MELAXTHE. 327 

until Ida found herself within a few feet of the 
spot were Elphenor stood. With a cry she could 
not wholly suppress, she sprang forward, as if to 
throw herself upon his breast ; but the quick eye 
of Mahomet was upon her, and catching her arm, 
he once again whispered, " Ida, consent, before it 
is too late — consent to my prayer."" 

" Never," said Ida, boldly, encouraged by the 
presence of him, for whom she would have died 
a thousand deaths, had it been possible. 

A scowl of hate darkened the brow of Mahomet ; 
and turning to the people, as still he held the arm 
of Ida, he exclaimed, in a voice trembling with 
passion, " It hath been told to the Sultan that his 
people have dared to murmur, and say that a 
woman, and a Christian, has turned him from his 
care of the true believers and followers of the Holy 
Prophet. Let those who audaciously question the 
conduct of their Prince adore the clemency which 
spares their rebellious lives, and learn, from his 
example, to sacrifice their own wishes to the 
general good. You see this woman — she is fair to 
look upon." A murmur of admiration burst from 
every lip. 



328 MELANTHE. 

" It is true that I love her. Now behold how 
Mahomet can sever a tie which would lead him 
from his duty.'"' 

Scarcely had the words passed his lips when, 
with a suddenness which defied all interposition, 
he retreated a step — the next instant the flash of a 
scimitar was seen, and at one blow the head of the 
beautiful Ida fell to the ground. A shriek from 
the multitude, and then the murmur of many 
voices filled the air ; but far above all rung out 
one cry, so long and bitter, that it thrilled through 
every bosom of that savage crowd. It was the 
cry of the broken heart — the strong man'*s agony ; 
and before the order of the inhuman Sultan that 
the head of the murdered Ida should be given to 
Elphenor could be heard, Elphenor lay senseless 
upon the earth. 



CHAPTER XXVITI. 

The barbarous deed, which had been devised 
and executed by Mahomet, as a means of striking 
terror into the hearts of his subjects, so far pro- 
duced the effect intended as to lull the growing 
spirit of disaffection. The Sultan, once more secure 
of his people, began to turn his attention towards 
those who remained of the former inhabitants of 
the city. 

Besides the countless multitude of the slain, 
sixty thousand Greeks had been sold as slaves ; 
and Mahomet, being somewhat appeased, now 
caused a proclamation to be made to the effect, 
that all Greeks and Romans who chose to dwell at 
Constantinople were at liberty to do so, and to 
follow their respective callings. Relieved from 
immediate fear of death, there arose on all sides 
symptoms of that servile spirit inherent in a dege- 
nerate people ; and such of the Greeks, and they 
were not a few, who had secreted the wealth which, 



330 MELANTHE. 

properly applied, might yet have preserved them 
as a nation, now laid their treasures at the feet of 
their conqueror, with abject meanness imploring 
him to accept that gold, of which they declared 
their former sovereign to have been unworthy. 
Mahomet was too politic openly to encourage 
treachery. The only answer they received, was a 
bitter taunt for their avarice, and an order for 
instant execution. 

All minor concerns having been disposed of, the 
vindictive nature of the Sultan burned for revenge 
upon an individual, against whom he cherished un- 
bounded hatred. The treacherous correspondence 
of Calil Pacha with the Christians, had long been 
suspected by Mahomet, even before the secret 
interview in the tent of the astrologer had revealed 
to him the extent of the baseness of the Vizier; 
yet, with such infinite cunning had the Sultan 
contrived to dissemble, that Calil reposed in the 
confidence of having totally escaped suspicion. 
The defeat of Constantine had shown him the 
fallacy of his speculations, and ever since Mahomet 
entered Constantinople, the zeal and officiousness 
of the Vizier had increased tenfold. What was 



MELANTHE. 331 

his consternation, when, one morning, as he was 
quietly seated in the magnificent palace Mahomet 
had bestowed upon him, and occupied in the 
agreeable calculation of the amount of treasure he 
had obtained, he received a summons to attend 
upon the Sultan ; and on emerging from his 
palace, perceived that his usual attendants were 
replaced by the guard of his Royal Master, before 
whom he was immediately conducted. 

The array in which Mahomet waited to receive 
him, was little calculated to re-assure the trembling 
culprit. Anxious to give some appearance of jus- 
tice to the punishment of the first officer of his 
empire, the Sultan appeared seated beneath a mag- 
nificent canopy upon the throne in the Hippo- 
drome, surrounded by his court, dressed in the 
habits of ceremony. The Mufti, attended by the 
MoUahs and the whole body of the Ulema, was 
present, occupying a large space on the right of 
the throne ; while on the left, a body of Emirs, 
with their green turbans, rose before the eyes of 
the unhappy Vizier. The inner ring of the circle 
was lined by the Ethiop guard of the Sultan, 
the dark-visaged soldiers, set off by turbans of 



332 MELANTHE. 

bright scarlet ; while, outside the line, which they 
kept with drawn swords in their hands, rose a 
motley group, where might be seen the long locks of 
the Greek mingling with the white turban of the 
Moslem and the high felt cap of the Dervish. But 
it was not upon the splendour glittering around the 
throne, nor yet upon the multitude crowding that 
arena, which, until the foot of the Moslem had trod- 
den down its glories, had ever been the scene of 
joy and of triumph, that the eye of the wretched 
Calil lingered, until, as if fascinated by the hor- 
ror the vision inspired, it could behold no other 
object. Close beside the throne stood four figures — 
negroes, so horribly deformed, that, to look upon 
them would have been a punishment. Their huge 
heads, with curly grizzled locks, and their mon- 
strous arms, seemed scarcely to belong to the 
dwarfish and misshapen bodies which supported 
them. As they grasped the Falaka, or instru- 
ment of the bastinado, then turned their rolling 
eyes towards the unhappy Vizier, the heart of 
Cahl Pacha sunk within him. With tottering 
steps, he advanced towards the throne, prostrating 
himself humbly before his sovereign. 



MELANTHE. 333 

The eye of Mahomet glistened with unusual 
ferocity, while a smile of triumph now and then 
indicated the inward complacency of the tyrant at 
having so thoroughly outwitted his enemy. As 
Calil rose from the ground, and laying his fingers 
upon his mouth and forehead, awaited the interro- 
gatories he felt were impending, the Mufti advanced 
towards him, and put into his hands a scroll, upon 
which his accusation was inscribed. No sooner had 
Calil glanced his eye over the words, than he saw 
that his doom was sealed ! and falling upon his 
knees, implored the mercy of his sovereign. For a 
moment, Mahomet seemed to gloat upon the agony 
of his victim, smiling sternly as he looked upon the 
writhing form of Calil, who, as he addressed his 
prayers to the throne, kept his eye constantly fixed 
upon the executioners; then the Sultan, rising with 
the dignity he so well knew how to assume, said — 

" Calil Pacha, thy words are as water spilled 
into a stream — they pass away, and the bosom of 
the river is still as before. So does thy speech fall 

on the ear of the Sultan of the Universe his 

ear closes ere the sound has passed. Calil Pacha, 
thou art a traitor — a drunkard — and an unfaithful 



MELANTHE. 



follower of the Holy Prophet ! — therefore shalt 
thou die ; — and as thy crimes have been three — so 
shall thy punishment be divided into three separate 
portions. First, for thy treachery in receiving 
bribes from the Christians, shalt thou be beaten 
with rods of gold. Next, for thy drunkenness, 
thou shalt be plunged in boiling wine ; and, lastly, 
the tower of salt* shall complete the measure of 
the penalty thou must undergo for thy crimes ! "" 

A shriek of agony from the Vizier followed the 
declaration of the Sultan ; but the ferocious coun- 
tenance of the young despot gave no hope of mercy ; 
and the Vizier was much too well versed in the 
modes of a Turkish trial to dream of attempting 
any defence. 

" Thou criest for mercy," said Mahomet, with 
the smile of a demon, " and for thy crimes against 
ourselves might we be merciful ; but thou hast 
sinned against Allah ! and the Holy Mahomet his 



* The tower of salt was a large open tower, the sides of which 
were composed of pillars of salt, while from the floor and the roof 
innumerable spikes projected. The culprit was placed in a swing- 
suspended from the roof, upon which water was gradually poured, 
which, slowly dissolving the pillars, at length the roof fell with a 
crash. 



MELANTHE. 335 

Prophet ! Behold," he continued, as he took a casket 
from the hands of one of the soldiers, ^' these jewels ; 
and thou,'^ addressing himself to the Mufti and 
people, " listen, while I proclaim that I myself was 
present when, with these jewels, the Vizier attempted 
to bribe the Astrologer of the faithful, the great 
Almanzor, so to misread the stars, as to give to the 
Christians, from whom Calil had received these 
gems, time to defeat the projects of the Sultan, and 
scatter his soldiers in the dust."" 

A murmur of indignation was heard amongst the 
crowd. 

" For the crime of impiety,"" continued Mahomet, 
when the sound had subsided, " the Prophet has 
declared there is no pardon.'"* Then again address- 
ing the Mufti as the highest officer present, he 
added, " Do thou take from him who was the Vi- 
zier the seal of the Sultan — and that the impious 
may bear no sign of a true believer, let his beard 
be cut off.'' 

Thus saying, Mahomet, who always managed if 
possible to give a religious turn to his deeds of 
violence, again seated himself on his throne — the 
Mufti drew from the vest of Calil the great seal of 



MELANTHE. 

the empire, which the Vizier always carries in his 
breast ; and in another instant Calil Pacha, stripped 
of his turban and beard — the greatest indignity 
that can be offered to a Mussulman — was writhing 
in the hands of the hideous negroes. Two of them 
stretched him upon the machine, while the others 
bound his hands; and then all four commenced 
beating him on the feet, hands, and body, with 
heavy golden rods, until the cries of the tortured 
man reached to the furthest parts of the arena. 

In no other nation could have been found an 
assembly of such numbers as now covered the Hip- 
podrome, which could have calmly looked down 
upon the torture of a fellow creature without 
exhibiting one sign of pity or disgust ; — but the 
Turks, habituated to repress all demonstration of 
feeling, stood around cold and grave, as if intent 
upon numbering the strokes which fell upon the 
victim. Soon the agony became insupportable. At 
every blow the blood sprung forth even to the foot 
of the throne ; and Mahomet with a savage grin 
encouraged by signs the zeal of the torturing fiends. 
In vain did the wretched Calil confess his crimes — 
in vain implore one moment's cessation of his 



MELAXTHE. 3S7 

anguish ; his prayers were unheeded by the cruel 
sovereign he had betrayed, and so still was the 
multitude around, that he might have deemed him- 
self alone with his executioners, had it not been for 
the thousand eyes which, in coldness or disdain, met 
his imploring glance. Every sob of the victim 
could be heard afar, and heavy and short they 
came ; for his strength was failing, and the heart- 
rending shriek now died upon the quivering lip. 

Not half the destined number of blows had been 
inflicted ere the keen eye of Mahomet marked the 
failing strength of the unhappy Calil. To allow 
him to die at once, would have been to lose the 
sweets of revenge ; and Mahomet was about to order 
the suspension of the torture, when a soimd arose, 
which for a moment distracted the attention of all 
around. It came from the centre of the crowd ; and 
the Sultan started, as he beheld an immense body of 
the Janissaries making their way forward, and bear- 
ing down all before them. If Mahomet could be said 
to stand in awe of any beings, human or divine, it 
was of the very body he had himself so lately 
re-organized, and to which such privileges had been 
granted, that, in the insolence of their elevation, the 
VOL. I. a 



S38 MELANTHE. 

Janissaries had more than once shown symptoms of 
a spirit very unusual in a nation of slaves. A sud- 
den revulsion of feeling came over the Sultan, as he 
marked their approach ; but his fears were calmed 
when he beheld them halt, while one of their num- 
ber advanced to the circle around the throne. But 
this one alone, although he appeared scarcely to 
have passed the age of boyhood, seemed imbued with 
the spirit of a thousand heroes. Fearless, and 
unarmed, he forced aside the guards who would 
have held him back, and, rushing to the foot of 
the throne, prostrated himself before the Sultan, 
demanding the instant release of the prisoner. 

" What means this insolence .?" exclaimed Maho- 
met, making a sign to the negroes to desist from 
their horrid task. 

" May it please the Sultan of the world," replied 
a voice, so sweet that it sounded like music in the 
air, '*' to listen to his slave. I come not to crave a 
boon, but to claim a right." 

" A right ?'' said Mahomet, looking contemptu- 
ously upon the youthful figure at his feet. 

" Yes, most mighty Sovereign, a right ; for thy 
gracious words did promise, that he who first stood 



MELANTHE. 339 

upon the walls of Constantinople should claim, as 
a right, all that he chose to ask. My foot was the 
first that entered the breach ; I have as yet asked 
nothing ; but he who is the light of the world, the 
glory of the East, and the terror of the Infidels, will 
not forget his words." 

" Who is there who will vouch for the truth of 
thine ?'' asked Mahomet, strangely interested by the 
courage and noble manner, almost verging upon 
haughtiness, yet blended with a softness scarce 
belonging to a man. 

" Isfendar, the Agha of the Janissaries ; nay, all 
who survived that hour, will bear witness of my 
truth," said the youth proudly. " My foot was 
first upon the walls, and the hand that first planted 
the crescent on the Christian tower was mine. I ask 
not for gold or power ; grant me but the captive of 
my sword, Demetrius of Ypsara, and," pointing to 
the bleeding Vizier, " what remains of life in that 
poor old man, and thy servant is satisfied." 

The voice of the speaker faltered as the names 
of the prisoners passed his lips, as though some 
secret linked his fate with theirs ; and the brow 
of Mahomet grew dark, for his tyrant heart ever 



340 MELANTHE. 

trembled as any mystery suggested the idea of 
treason. 

" What means this strange request?" he asked, 
at the same time bending on the young Janissary 
a look so keen, that he bowed his head beneath it. 

" Young man, thou hast chosen ill — take what 
thou wilt of gold and gems — nay, the fairest pro- 
vince of my empire shall be thine — but know that 
the hours of the prisoners are already numbered — 
they die before the sun has set.'' 

" No, they shall not die,*" said the youth, start- 
ing to his feet, but with a shriek that ill became 
the courage of a soldier, " I have redeemed their 
lives. The promise of the Sultan is sacred. I 
ask but justice— I pray but for my own; it is a 
wife who prays for her husband — a child for her 
parent. I am the daughter of the Vizier !"" — and 
throwing off the turban and beard of the Janis- 
sary, she drew the long black tresses of her hair 
partly over her face, and, trembling with shame 
and fear as she quitted her disguise, Chezme knelt 
before the Sultan. 

A murmur of admiration rose on all sides, but 
in none did the feeling glow so fervently, as in the 



MELANTHE. 341 

breast of him who betrayed the least emotion ; 
the daring of Chezme was so different from the 
usual character of Turkish women, and so conge- 
nial to the ardent spirit of Mahomet, that he gazed 
for some time in total silence upon the slight girlish 
form of the being before him, who could hazard 
such a deed, for the sake of those she loved ; and 
if the memory of Ida recurred to him, it was with 
a pang more of sorrow than of anger, as he con- 
fessed to himself, that the devotion of woman sur- 
passed the things of earth. 

" How," said Mahomet gently, " thou art that 
Chezme, of whom I have heard so much ?" 

" I am Chezme, the daughter of Calil Pacha. 
I fled from Adrianople, to avoid marrying one I 
did not love ; and in the disguise of a Dervish 
braved the dangers of the Turkish camp, to watch 
over the interests of those who were dear to me, 
and to serve them if I could."" 

" And thou hast served them !'** exclaimed Maho- 
met — " nobly served them ; and thy courage shall 
be rewarded. For thy sake, the Sultan will stay 
i his wrath, and revoke his words — the prisoners are 
free — and have leave to depart ; and thou, Chezme, 



342 MELANTHE. 

sbalt choose in what province of the empire, a 
palace shall be erected for thee." 

Chezme could only answer by her tears ; and 
Mahomet, with the feeling of gladness which must 
sometimes enter the heart of man, however de- 
praved, when conscious of having done a good 
action, descended from his throne ; and mounting 
his horse, took his way to the church of Saint 
Sophia, now converted into a mosque, to be present 
at the public thanksgiving he had ordered, for the 
success of his arms against Constantinople. 



CHAPTER XXIX, 

At the moment when Hassan had caught the 
child of Ida, as the barbarian had snatched it from 
her arms with the intention of dashing it on the 
srround, the rage of the Mussulmen for blood had 
somewhat abated. Tired with slaughter, their 
cruel fury no longer sought for victims ; and, con- 
tented witli making prisoners, they drove before 
them all those who remained within the church. 

Step by step, Hassan had retreated with his 
charge — now cowering behind a pillar — now pro- 
tected by the frantic groups which endeavoured to 
oppose or avoid the advancing Mussulmen. At 
length, farther retreat seemed impossible; and 
Hassan, crouching behind a marble shrine, upon 
which stood a figure of the Virgin, awaited the 
death he no longer expected to escape. With 
Melanthe clasped to his breast, he knelt upon the 
pavement, his forehead pressed against the back 



S44 MELANTHE. 

of the pedestal which supported the statue. For 
some time, so great was his terror, that he was not 
conscious that the support against which he leaned 
was gradually giving way ; but at length, to his 
joy, he perceived that the pedestal was hollow, and 
by pressing the moulded edge of the panel, he 
easily forced it back sufficiently to admit his hand. 
There, however, all his discovery seemed to ter- 
minate. No exertion of strength could move the 
marble doors either farther apart or into their 
original position. The hope which had lighted in 
his bosom was quickly extinguished, and again, 
the unhappy Hassan sought refuge from despair 
in that spirit of resignation to his fate to which all 
Mussulmen turn in the hour of danger. 

The scene within the church had now changed. 
The Sultan had sworn, that ere sunset the magnifi- 
cent Saint Sophia should be a Turkish mosque ; and 
as all ornaments therein are forbidden, by the Mos- 
lem religion, the fury of slaughter was exchanged 
for the demolition of inanimate objects. Paintings 
and statues, monuments and altars, rare marbles, 
and the rich mosaic of the pavement and walls, 
were torn from their places, and hurled in a con- 



MELANTHE. 345 

fused mass into the centre of the building. Tremb- 
ling with fear, Hassan beheld from his concealment 
the work of devastation, and clinging still closer to 
the marble, what was his surprise, as the blows of 
the huge hammer of one of the Infidels struck at 
the base of the pedestal, to see the panels gradually 
recede. With difficulty he suppressed a cry of 
delight as another blow and another, working 
probably on some secret spring, still further 
enlarged the aperture. 

Without delay, Hassan darted into the cavity, 
supporting Melanthe with one arm, while with the 
other he felt his way. He had not proceeded far 
when a sudden gleam of light flashed upon his 
path, sufficient to show him what appeared an 
interminable flight of steps ; and then a heavy 
fall above, and the rolling of detached stones 
beneath his feet, told him that his retreat was cut 
off. He was so bewildered by the idea of being 
thus buried beneath the church, that at first he 
could scarcely rejoice in his escape from immediate 
destruction ; but a little while restored his senses. 
Cautiously descending, after infinite toil, and being 
obliged constantly to retrace his steps, he reached 
a 5 



346 



MELANTHE. 



the vaults below the church, which, though Hassan 
could not be aware of the fact, had been used 
during the siege as a general depository of property. 
Here another difficulty presented itself. On 
every side, the way was hemmed in by objects 
which he could not distinguish. More than once, 
he sat down to collect, if possible, from the sounds 
which reached him from above, some information 
as to his position. Though mellowed by distance, 
he could still hear the well-known Moslem cry ; 
and now and then a heavy crash announced that 
the work of destruction was not yet completed. 
Sick at heart, the unhappy Hassan again attempted 
to pursue his way, when, as he stood uncertain how 
to turn, he fancied that a blast of air, more fresh 
than he had hitherto felt, betokened some outlet 
near. Cautiously moving in the direction thus 
indicated, he came, at last, to a low iron door. It 
was unclosed, and with joy Hassan perceived a faint 
glimmer beyond. Hastily mounting the steps, 
a few minutes brought him to a grating, which 
having removed, he found himself, to his unspeak- 
able delight once again inhaling the fresh air of 
heaven. 



MEL AN THE. 347 

As he stood at the mouth of the vault, his first 
impulse was to return thanks to God for his delivery 
from peril, for Hassan was a good Mussulman. 
His next, was to ascertain how far his removal from 
immediate danger might conduce to his ultimate 
escape. To reach the shore, and seek for safety in 
some land where the Moslem name was heard with- 
out fear, was the ardent desire of Hassan. The 
straits were crowded with ships of all nations; but 
how to traverse a city in the hands of his most 
deadly foe (for by his desertion of his sovereign 
he had incurred the penalty of an apostate), was 
more than the prolific brain of Hassan could spee- 
dily determine. 

To avoid detection, he had assumed the dress of 
a Greek, with the language of whose nation he was 
well acquainted ; and though he had contrived to 
secrete the jewels and money with which he had 
quitted the Turkish camp, as well as those given 
to him by Ida, they were for the moment rendered 
useless by the peculiarity of his situation. No 
hope remained, except to avail himself of the 
coming darkness in order to reach the shore ; and, 
retreating within the shelter of the vault, Hassan 
Avaited patiently, until the twinkling of the stars 



348 MELANTHE* 

gave notice that day had faded from the earth. 
But he had ill calculated, when he supposed that 
the victorious Mussulmen would so quickly resume 
their habits of decorum and tranquillity during the 
hours of night. No sooner had he emerged from 
his hiding place, than sounds of merriment, unusual 
in a Turkish camp, greeted his ear. Though the 
slaughter had ceased, yet more than one unhappy 
Greek was sacrificed, in mere wantonness of spirit, 
by straggling parties of the victors, who, des- 
pite the Moslem law, were all intoxicated. The 
gravity of the Turks was replaced by the most 
frantic demonstrations of joy and ferocity ; and 
well might Hassan tremble, as, taking advantage 
of the shadow the long and narrow street afforded, 
he endeavoured to follow in the wake of a body of 
soldiers, who, as they passed on, filled the air with 
their shouts, and wantonly struck at every object 
within their reach. 

A great part of the town had been traversed in 
this manner, and Hassan still hoped to reach the 
shore undiscovered, when an accident threatened to 
bring instant death upon him. Melanthe, who 
had hitherto remained passive, now alarmed by the 
shouts of the soldiers, began to cry violently, and 



MELANTHE. 349 

the sound catching the ear of the hindmost of the 
drunken troop, it halted. Hassan could see in the 
twilight, the flashing of their scimitars, and the 
glimmer of their white turbans, as the Ottoman 
soldiers rushed towards him, in the savage hope of 
adding another to their list of victims. Frantic with 
terror, Hassan turned upon his steps ; and ignorant 
of the position in which he stood, he took the first 
path which presented itself, and fled down the nar- 
row street, pursued by the Turks, whose cries grew 
more fierce as their victim seemed to elude their 
grasp. 

He had nearly reached the end of the street, when, 
to his horror, he perceived, not twenty yards in 
advance, a similar body of soldiers to that from 
which he fled. The new comers were armed with 
torches, which they brandished with the fury of 
madmen. Already the unhappy fugitive seemed to 
feel the glare upon his brow — his knees trembled — 
his hands shook; another second, and all would have 
been over, when the light falling on the opposite 
side of the street, revealed to his eager glance the 
open door of a dwelling which stood retired from 
the rest, and was of larger dimensions than those by 



S50 MELANTHE. 

which it was surrounded. One bound, and Hassan 
was safe within its walls. The heavy door closed 
behind him, and he sunk exhausted within its 
shelter. Not long, however, could he remain in 
peace. The heavy blows upon the door, and the 
savages cries with which they were accompanied, 
as, with the tenacity of drunken rage, the Turks 
seemed resolved upon the pursuit they bad com- 
menced, warned Hassan to depart. A flight of 
marble stairs was made visible by a light which 
gleamed from an open door above. Hassan bounded 
up the steps, and stood within the chamber. 

Alas ! what a sample did it afford of the horrors 
which had been that day enacted within the city ! 
Across the threshold lay the body of a man in the 
prime of life ; while farther on, extended on a 
couch, was the lifeless form of one whom not even 
the love of a husband could shield from the fury of 
the victors ! The young and beauteous head was 
almost severed from the body, and the jewelled 
girdle, torn from the slender waist, lay broken and 
trampled on the floor. A whole history was in that 

broken clasp and the heart of Hassan swelled, as 

he thought upon the wrongs of his own child, and 



MELANTHE. 351 

gazed on the pallid face of the young wife who had 
seen her husband vainly butchered before her eyes ! 

But the blows of the pursuers grew louder and 
louder. Hassan looked hastily around. There 
was food upon the table, and a lamp still gleamed 
from an alcove. A sudden thought seemed to 
strike upon his mind. Seizing a mantle which lay 
upon the ground, he carefully wrapped Melanthe 
within its folds ; then, having provided himself with 
all the food he could carry, he took the lamp, and 
descending the stairs, resolved to seek for shelter in 
the vaulted passages which he knew composed the 
lower part of every Grecian palace. Scarcely had 
he discovered the steps which led from the hall, 
when the blows which had continued to pour upon 
the door suddenly ceased, and then, with a roar 
which froze the blood of the fugitive, a thunder of 
assault commenced, and in another instant, his last 
hope was gone, the door yielded, and ere Hassan 
could partially close that by which he descended, a 
score of turbaned heads were visible in the entrance. 

Catching the glimmer of the light, with shouts 
of Allah ! Allah ! the infuriated Turks, driven to 
madness by the effects of the wine they had swal- 



352 MELANTHE. 

lowed, rushed upon his steps; but Hassan had 
gained an advantage which he was too prudent to 
lose, and onward he flew with the haste that fear 
alone can give. With the speed of light, he 
traversed the gloomy passages before him, and still 
the cries of his enemies sounded in his ear, when — 
oh ! joy ! is it the ocean that he has gained ? 
Water sparkles before him — where is he? The 
groined arch above his head, the fluted pillar by 
his side, the marble steps on which he treads, 
Hassan sees none of these — a boat — a small and 
solitary boat, lay moored upon the dark bosom of 
the tide. One moment, and the chain sinks in the 
wave, and Hassan and his infant charge have \ 

trusted their safety to the frail bark, which shoots 
like an arrow from the shore. 



i 



CHAPTER XXX. 

Impelled by the vigorous arm of Hassan, the 
shouts of whose pursuers still rung in his ears, the 
light skiff darted forwards over the smooth surface 
of the water ; and it was not until a long interval 
of unbroken silence had calmed his terrors, that he 
relaxed his efforts. Then, for the first time, he 
observed the impenetrable depth of gloom by which 
he was surrounded. It might be the flicker of the 
lamp which he had placed in the stern of the boat, 
which cheated the eye of Hassan, as he glanced 

fearfully around, but yet it was strange and an 

insurmountable presentiment of danger gradually 
stole over the spirit of joy with which he had quitted 
the shore. An hour or more must have elapsed, 
and still every where the same objects met his view; 
the meeting of the arch above his head, while a 
forest of pillars seemed to rise on every side, and 
below the waveless deep — black, sullen, and hor- 
ribly calm, like the darkness of a despairing soul. 



354 .MELANTHE. 

Hassan trembled as the chill of that terrible ocean 
vault seemed to freeze the blood in his veins ; and 
wrapping the poor infant he had saved, still more 
closely in the folds of its mantle, he laid it upon 
his bosom. 

It slept : — and Hassan gazed upon its little face, 
until the tears bedewed his own. Had he snatched 
it from one fate, to yield it to another^too frightful 
to contemplate ! a living tomb — a tomb among the 
waters ; — and he thought of the silvery ocean 
studded with white-sailed ships ; and shuddering, 
looked down upon the still, black lake, stranger 
alike to the glimmer of the midnight star, or the 
smile of the gay sunbeam. 

Into what mysterious cavern had the fate o 
the unhappy Hassan driven him ? More than 
once did he utter this exclamation aloud, and the 
echoes gave back his words with horrible distinct- 
ness, till the sound died away in laughing whispers 
among the arches, as though the fiends kept holi- 
day to mock the anguish of mortal fear. Vainly 
did Hassan pray, and still more vainly weep — and 
wildly strain the oar again, to speed along the 
trackless aisle of the ocean cloister ; the same view 



MELANTHE. 355 

rose around, and all hope of escape seemed fruit- 
less. Fiercely struggling, the yet uncrushed spirit 
of man contended with the prospect of death, and 
for many hours the patient Hassan kept his onward 
course, in the faint hope that he might even regain 
the spot from whence he had started. Why had 
he been in such haste to quit the shore? It 
seemed to him now, that even the pursuit of the 
infuriated Turks was less to be feared than the 
dreadful death he had so dearly purchased. And 
Melanthe, the child of his benefactor, the daughter 
of Ida, that angel in woman's form, who had 
tended him in sickness, and watched by his couch, 
speaking words of comfort to calm the terrors of 
his guilty soul — alas! must her child perish in 
his arms ? Could he not save it from death — 
save it, if but to redeem, by the gratitude he felt for 
its parents, the treachery he had practised towards 
his sovereign ? Poor Hassan ! how did his heart 
bleed, as he gazed upon that child whom he had 
vowed to protect. 

Hour after hour passed on: — with scarcely a hope 
to support him, he endeavoured to advance ; but 
his strength was failing ; the feeble stroke scarce 



356 MELANTHE. 

kept the slender bark from contact with the columns 
which seemed, as if by magic, to spring from the 
depth of the waters; and the heart of Hassan 
sickened, as his eye rested upon their ever multi- 
plying forms. But now — is it that his straining 
gaze has lost its power ? — the pillars grow less clear 
— the shadows dim — still, still more dim ; and 
Hassan grasps the oar— on springs the boat— again 
the white arch gleams above his head— again the 
dark wave ripples as he flies, and then he pauses — 
oh ! horror ! how the light flickers and wanes ! 
" The lamp — the lamp,'"" cried Hassan, with a 
shriek, stretching his hand towards it; and the 
glare of madness lights his eye, as the last gleam 
shoots up above the boat. Then all is dark — 
dark— silent as the tomb, save that the deep sob of 
bitter misery trembles through the chill and murky 
air, as, on the cheek of helpless infancy, the strong 
man's head is pillowed now — to die ! 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

The sufferings of the succeeding hours were 
dreadful ! More than once the sinking spirit of 
Hassan contemplated a speed}^ release, by a plunge 
into the dark gulf, upon whose bosom he lay help- 
less, while life ebbed slowly away. But the child 
he held within his arms !— could he leave it to die 
alone ! — or take the life he once had saved ? The 
heart of Hassan would not harbour such a thought. 
And yet, how soon must death claim the fragile 
form he clasped so fondly ! The food he had 
brought with him was exhausted, — the cold had 
numbed the tender limbs, which Hassan vainly at- 
tempted to chafe ; and the cries of the terrified in- 
fant grew more and more feeble, as, appalled by 
the darkness, it clung to the breast of its protector ! 
Without a hope, and endeavouring to resign 
himself to the horrors of a lingering death, Hassan 
now laid himself down. So motionless was the 



358 MELANTHE. 

water, that he could feel that the column against 
which the boat had rested, still touched its side. 
How often, during those weary hours, did he raise 
his languid hand to touch the fluted stone, and 
sink again in despair, as he found himself moored 
as it were by a viewless power to the spot ! So 
still and changeless had been his position for many 
hours, that it was not without a feeling of increased 
horror, that he at length fancied he perceived a 
slight rocking motion in the boat. The supersti- 
tion of Hassan was extreme, and now he trembled 
afresh, as many of the traditions of Greece, as well 
as those of his own land, crowded upon his over- 
wrought fancy. 

Without air, what could cause the sudden move- 
ment he had felt ? Was it some monster of the deep 
come, at the appointed time, to call him to the 
regions below the wave, where the Turks fancy all 
who perish on the sea, are summoned to receive 
their judgment? or was it on the bosom of the 
stream which wafts the Grecian souls to realms of 
darkness, that he had sought refuge ? 

The terror of Hassan rapidly increased ; but in 
another instant, even fear was merged in the stun- 



MELANTHE. 359 

ning sensation which overwhelmed him. A sound 
as of thunder rose in the distance ; and as it passed 
away, the waters trembled at its angry voice ; and 
the fragile boat rocked wildly to and fro. A deep 
silence followed, and Hassan could almost hear the 
beating of his heart, as he lay breathlessly watch- 
ing for the return of that frightful sound. It came 
again, now no longer rumbling and distant, but 
nearer and nearer, until it seemed above, below, and 
filling every space around him, and then a sheet of 
flame, bursting from all sides, lit up the watery 
palace, and myriads of "pillars seemed to dance 
before the wondering eyes of Hassan ! 

One second, and the light was gone ; it vanished 
with a crash, as though the angry heavens had 
dashed another world upon the earth ! and again 
and again it returned ; and out of the bosom of that 
waveless deep, arose a hissing sound, and Hassan 
saw that above his head the flames were bursting 
in every direction. Frantic with terror, he tried to 
wind his arms around the pillar near him, but the 
effort was vain. The trembling skiff* was driven 
to and fro, and a thick smoke filled the air. 

At last the sounds grew less frequent, and more 



MELANTHE. 

faint — the smoke gradually dispersed — and in a 
little while Hassan was weeping with joy — a soft 
light gleamed around. It was the light of heaven ; 
and through the cleft arches above his head, the 
bright blue sky smiled down, and life and liberty 
were in that smile. Strange and wild, among the 
echoes of that ocean palace, now sounded the words 
of thanksgiving which Hassan poured forth to 
God ; yet scarcely had he uttered them, when a 
new danger seemed about to snatch from him the 
hope he had just conceived. His boat, from some 
unseen impulse, began to glide rapidly over the 
water ; he seized the oar, and by strong efforts 
for some time avoided the contact of the pillars ; 
but soon the stream became so impetuous, that it 
bore him along with an overwhelming rapidity. 
Another moment, and the rushing sound of a cata- 
ract met his ear ; a blaze of sunlight followed; and 
when he recovered from the suddenness of the shock, 
which had released him from his prison, he found 
himself still at the bottom of his boat, which was 
safely embedded in the ruins of the watery vault. 

With as much of awe as of surprise, Hassan 
gazed upon the scene before him, and the mystery 



MEI.ANTHE. 361 

of his late position was revealed. A magazine of 
powder had burst above the subterranean river, 
which seemed to him to wind beneath the city ; 
and from its crumbling arches the waters of this 
monstrous reservoir were now pouring into the 
valley below. One side was laid open to the day, 
and Hassan shuddered anew as he saw, through the 
shattered walls, the countless stems of the pillars in 
the labyrinth of which he had passed the night. 
A broken aqueduct at a short distance showed 
clearly the means by which the vaulted lake had 
been filled ; but Hassan had little time now to ad- 
mire the grandeur of the device by which, in case 
of siege, the city could be supplied with water : still 
less to think with reverence on the mighty mind 
which had planned and executed this wondrous 
scheme. The wishes of Hassan had only one 
object — to leave as quickly as might be the land 
where he had suffered so much. Without any 
great difficulty he contrived to extricate himself 
from the ruined walls where his boat was still 
secured ; and pressing Melanthe to his breast, as he 
knelt upon the green sward of the valley, he im- 
plored the blessing of Heaven and the Prophet ; 

VOL. I. s 



362 MELANTHE. 

and having, as a good Mussulman, repeated sundry 
prayers, and the hundred and four attributes of 
Allah, he felt his courage revive, and with con- 
fidence took his way to the shore, which was 
crowded with people. He there learned the pro- 
clamation, by which the Sultan permitted all the 
Greeks to remain in the City of Constantinople, or 
depart from it, according to their own desire. The 
latter alternative had been eagerly adopted by the 
greater number, and the waves of the Bosphorus 
gleamed with the white sails of the many vessels, 
the owners of which were busily employed in 
making their bargains for the transport of their 
countrymen to other shores. 

Some were going to Italy — some to Spain ; and 
Hassan eagerly secured a passage in a small vessel 
bound for Naples : but before he would enter the 
sanctuary which would place him beyond the reach 
of the Sultan, at whose name he trembled, the 
grateful heart of Hassan prompted him to risk his 
own safety by pausing to make inquiries as to the 
fate of Ida and Elphenor. Of the latter he could 
gain no intelligence ; so many Greeks had already 
departed, that it was probable, as his death had not 



MELA^'THE. 



been mentioned, that Elphenor was of the number ; 
but even among the scenes of horror which had 
been lately enacted, the inhuman murder of Ida by 
the hand of the Sultan was a fact of so much noto- 
riety that Hassan could not doubt the words of the 
many, who, with expressions of detestation towards 
its perpetrator, related it to him. 

It was too true ! Ida, the beautiful and the 
good, had perished beneath the blow of the dis- 
appointed tyrant ; and Hassan, as he remembered 
her kindness to himself, and the devoted love she 
bore to her child, forgot the passive sternness 
practised by those of his nation, and suffered his 
tears to fall upon the brow of the motherless babe 
he pressed to his bosom. 

'' Would that I had died for her !" he mur- 
mured, as he looked upon the child of Ida ; " but 
lush Allah i please God, thou shalt be saved ! 
Hassan is not ungrateful. Yes — hish Alldh^ thou 
shalt be saved ! Hassan will work for thee — he 
will take thee where no cruel Sultan can find thee ; 
and will be to thee a father. His sin is great, but 
his trials have been greater ; and he trusts in God ! 
La ilhahi il Allah ! There is no God but God ! 



364 MELANTHE. 

and Mahomet is his Prophet f and Hassan turned 
his face to the East, as he concluded his soliloquy, 
and stood for some moments in prayer, ere, with 
Melanthe, he entered the vessel which was to 
convey them to Italy. 



EMD OF VOLUME I. 



LONDON; 
PRINTED BY J. MITCHELL AND CO. (lATE BRETTELL), 
RUPERT STREET, HAYMAUKET. 



ry